As Americans, we proudly fly our flags on Independence Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day and on September 11 of each year. For some, the Stars and Stripes decorates their porches all year as a daily reminder of what it means to be an American. Our flags stand tall as we leave our mark on foreign soil. But what do we do when our flags become tattered and torn, and can fly no longer?
There is a justified reason and dignified way of burning the flag when the time has come for Old Glory.
On Saturday, June 5, an honorable destruction ceremony was held at 10 a.m. at the VFW Lodge 2283 located on North Arkansas Avenue. During the ceremony damaged and defaced American flags were honored and destroyed. The event was sponsored in part by the River Valley Veterans Coalition, American Legion, Disabled American Veterans, Marine Corps League, Military Officers Association of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars and area Boy and Girl Scouts.
In 1937, the American Legion passed a resolution about flag retirement ceremonies and they've been an important ritual ever since.
According to the resolution, "The approved method of disposing of unserviceable flags has long been that they be destroyed by burning."
The U.S. Flag Code 1 reads: “The flag, when it is in such a condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”
The U.S. flag is considered such a sacred symbol that burning it in an undignified manner constitutes desecration. That's why the ceremonies are held in a specific manner.
The National Flag Foundation provides the following guide for conducting a patriotic flag burning ceremony.
Ceremony of Final Tribute:
Only one flag should be used in the ceremony, which is representative of all the flags to be burned in the service. The remainder of the flags collected should be incinerated. A corporate, government, or military incinerator or furnace can usually be found for this purpose.
The ceremony should be conducted out-of-doors, preferably in conjunction with a campfire program, and it should be very special.
The ceremony involves two color guards, one for the flag currently in use and a special color guard for the flag to be retired from service. Of course, this may be adapted if conditions necessitate.
Just before sunset the flag which has been flying all day is retired in the normal ceremonial procedure for that location or group.
The color guard responsible for the flag receiving the final tribute moves to front and center. The leader should present this color guard with the flag which has been selected for its final tribute and subsequent destruction. The leader should instruct the color guard to "hoist the colors."
Leader comments: (when the flag has been secured at the top of the pole) "This flag has served its nation well and long. It has worn to a condition in which it should no longer be used to represent the nation.""This flag represents all of the flags collected and being retired from service today. The honor we show here this evening for this one flag, we are showing for all of the flags, even those not physically here."
The leader should:
This concludes the Ceremony of Final Tribute
The following video and the attached photos were captured during Saturday’s ceremony.
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As Americans, we proudly fly our flags on Independence Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day and on Se…