One of Disney’s most touching and patriotic daily offerings, the Flag Retreat ceremony takes place at the foot of Main Street each evening centering around a retiring of the colors ceremony where the American Flag, rising high above the theme park, is taken down for the night. It is a 15-minute ceremony that really pulls at your heart-strings. The Pledge of Allegiance is recited, the Disneyland Band plays the anthem from each of the armed forces, veterans and active military are invited to the flagpole to be part of the ceremony, and the Dapper Dans are often on hand as well as members of the Color Guard to guide you through moving renditions of patriotic tunes such as “God Bless America.” But before they lower the flag, a member of the honor guard, often former Marine Ernie “Gunny” Napper, speaks directly to the veterans and military personnel gathered around the flagpole and thanks them for their service.
The Flag Retreat has not been held for several weeks due to construction on Main Street USA. returned to Disneyland. Upon its return, fans were disappointed to hear that the personal remarks from the honor guard to those around the flagpole had been replaced by a recorded announcement. “To all you have served our great nation, on behalf of the Disneyland Resort, we thank you for your honorable service to America.”
Co-founder, Susan Emslie, of the Facebook group I Support the Disneyland Flag Retreat Ceremony, expressed her feelings online, along with a video of a Flag Retreat Ceremony from before the change:
“This Retreat was several months ago BUT I’m posting to remind us of the passion of a Man that served this Nation ALL of his adult life. Gunny served 22 Yrs. in The Marine Corps and has continued to serve here at The Park for going on 26 years. His HEART is to Honor and Thank. You can hear it in his voice and feel it in your soul. Today his voice was silenced and replaced with a ‘canned announcement.’”
“[During] the playing of GOD BLESS AMERICA, Gunny always looks around the circle and makes eye contact with each Veteran…he broke down and shed many tears today. It was a tough day for this Marine.”
Emslie encourages fans of the Flag Retreat Ceremony to let the Disneyland Resort know how they feel about the change.
Some fans who have already contacted Disney received a response that reads, in part:
“We sincerely appreciate your passion for the Flag Retreat Ceremony that occurs daily in Disneyland on Main Street U.S.A. Our entertainment offerings and attractions are continually evaluated in an effort to provide our Guests with the best possible experience. One of the ways we attempt to maintain this goal is to continually evaluate our operation and sometimes we make changes. For a more consistent Guest experience, and to ensure all Guests can hear the remarks at the Flag Retreat Ceremony, a new, pre-recorded message thanks, those who have served.”
Source: I Support the Disneyland Flag Retreat Ceremony and
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