US Marines who lowered embassy flag in Havana in 1961 honored as banner rises again in Cuba


U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry watches as the Stars and Stripes is presented by the same three Marines who lowered the flag at the U.S. Embassy’s closing in 1961, at the flag raising ceremony outside the newly opened U.S. Embassy, in Havana, Cuba, Friday, Aug. 14, 2015. Kerry arrived in Havana, Friday, for an historic ceremony to raise the U.S. flag over a restored U.S. Embassy in the Cuban capital. (AP Photo/Ramon Espinosa) (The Associated Press)

Three U.S. Marines who lowered the flag at the U.S. Embassy in Havana more than five decades ago were given a position of honor at Friday’s ceremony to raise the Stars and Stripes once again.

Jim Tracy, Mike East and Larry C. Morris received a standing ovation at the seaside diplomatic mission as they handed a folded flag to three active Marines, who raised it to a brass band rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Secretary of State John Kerry lauded the men, saying: “Promise made, promise kept.”

In comments published on a U.S. State Department blog post, East recalled the moment in 1961 when Washington and Havana broke off diplomatic relations at the height of Cold War tensions.

“It was a touching moment,” East said. “To see Old Glory flying for the last time in Cuba, it was . just didn’t seem right.”

Morris said he had been stationed on the island for just four and a half months, but he “enjoyed the people and Cuba better than any place I’ve ever been.”

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