Flag Breathing Ceremony for Ira H. Hayes & Kenneth Hayes

Emma Hughes
Gila River Indian News


Members of the Gila River Indian Community, veterans, and relatives of brothers Kenneth and Ira H. Hayes convened on Feb. 22, for a deeply significant flag-breathing ceremony, a tribute to the two men’s service and sacrifice. The Veteran & Family Services Office, in collaboration with the Huhugam Heritage Center, proudly hosted this momentous event.


Joseph and Nancy (Whittaker) Hayes were the parents of Ira and Kenneth Hayes, who served their country with distinction. Ira, a member of the United States Marine Corps, is renowned for his role in raising the American flag atop Mount Suribachi during the WWII Battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. Kenneth, who served in the United States Army during the Korean War, was a recipient of the prestigious Purple Heart medal.


The ceremony was a community-wide effort, with relatives of the Hayes family being honored and veterans from the Ira H. Hayes American Legion Post 84, Haskell Osife-Antone Post 51, First Nations Warrior Society, and Bushmasters American Legion Post 114 participating.


Officers from the Gila River Police Department and Gila River Emergency Medical Services also lent their support, assisting with the ceremonies.


“Well, I think it came out pretty good because the last time when I redid the flags, it was at the Veteran’s [Memorial] Park and we put them up, we raised them up on the poles for about 20-30 minutes, refolded it [and] presented back to the family,” said Douglas Juan, U.S. Army, “We didn’t have a large audience because it was still during COVID, but now that people can come, it’s good to see that happening and sharing with the community instead of just the family.”


 More on this story will be featured in the next issue of the GRIN.