You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

An early 4th in Rota, Spain

Jul. 2, 2014 - 05:38PM   |  
Flag-raising ceremony
U.S. service members and civilians stand at attention July 2 during the annual U.S. flag-raising ceremony at Rota Naval Station, Spain. While raising the flag is a daily occurrence on most U.S. military installations around the world, the Spanish navy base permits the U.S. flag to be raised only once a year, usually to celebrate Independence Day. (MCC William Clark/Navy)
  • Filed Under

ROTA NAVAL STATION, SPAIN — The American flag went up early Wednesday at this Spanish naval base in a short ceremony that marked the only time the Stars and Stripes will fly here for another year.

Airmen, Marines, sailors and soldiers stood in formation in the cool morning while speakers blasted “The Star-Spangled Banner” in an annual tradition that dates back years.

The U.S. agreement with Spain forbids flying the American flag on base except for once a year — historically in the days leading up to America’s Independence Day.

With Old Glory flapping in a steady breeze overhead, Navy Capt. Gregory Pekari, commanding officer of the more than 3,000 U.S. service members on base, told the crowd to reflect on the cost of freedom and not forget those still in combat zones as they celebrate the nation’s 238th birthday over the next several days.

“Share some of our traditions with our Spanish hosts,” Pekari said.

Dozens of spouses and children of those stationed here came out to see the American flag, which folks back home can take for granted.

Jackie Samuelson, who is married to a Navy lieutenant at Rota, said she and her husband changed their holiday plans in order to participate in the event.

“It’s such a special day. It brings a sense of unity to the base,” said Samuelson, who, like most of those gathered, wore red, white and blue.

“It’s one of the only days of the year we get to show our pride,” said Elizabeth Hepp, who is married to a Navy gunnery officer.

Laura Jones, the wife of Air Force Tech. Sgt. Alan Jones, brought the couple’s five children, ages 11, 10, 8, 5 and 3. They’d been up since 6 a.m. for the 8 a.m. ceremony — all of them donning colors of the flag — for Laura Jones’ favorite event at Rota.

A.J., the 11-year-old, pointed out that the flag really flew this year — last year there was no breeze.

“It kind of feels like home,” the technical sergeant said.

Festivities were planned for the rest of the day including a concert by David Cook of American Idol fame and a fireworks show.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In News

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Navy Times

This Week's Navy Times

Go mustang
LDO and warrant careers offer more authority, a pay hike and big retirement payout

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook