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Old American Flags Disposed of in Dignified Ceremony on Flag Day

Members of the Atwood American Legion, James Reeder Post #770 taking part in the flag burning ceremony. Left to right, Commander Ken Caraway, Brett Schrad, Howard Kamm, Jim McCollum, Don Swartz and John Brandenburg.

By Doris Elmore
Staff Writer

Members of the Atwood American Legion, James Reeder Post 770, properly disposed of old flags at a ceremony on Wednesday evening at the Harris Electric area on Magnolia St. Flags are collected during the year and given to Commander Ken Caraway, or any legion member. The dignified disposal of unserviceable flags is held each year on Flag Day, June 14. This year there were 77 flags burned in the ceremony.

If you have never witnessed this ceremony, you should. It is a very impressive occasion and normally with only the legion members and two or three others in attendance. The American flag is so important to all of us, and yet there are people that disrespect it. That is a true mystery to me why any American would feel that way.

Since only a handful of people have attended the ceremony, I want to quote a portion of what is read before the burning: “We have presented these flags of our country which have been inspected and judged as unserviceable. They have reached their present state in a proper service of tribute, memory and love.”

Commander Caraway continued, “A flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gauze or a beautiful banner of finest silk. Its intrinsic value may be trifling or great, but its real value is beyond price, for it is a precious symbol of all that we and our comrades have worked for and lived for, and died for – a free nation of free men and women, true to the faith of the past, devoted to the ideals and practice of justice, freedom and democracy.”

Continuing, “Let these faded flags of our country be retired and destroyed with respectful and honorable rites and their places be taken by bright new flags of the same size and kind, and let no grave of our soldier, sailor, marine or airman dead be un-honored and unmarked.”

The chaplain closes with the following prayer: “Almighty God, Captain of all hosts and commander over all, bless and consecrate this present hour. We thank you for our country and its flag, and for the liberty for which it stands. To a clean and purging flame, we commit these flags, worn out in worthy service. As they yield their substance to the fire, may Your holy light spread over us and bring our hearts renewed devotion to God and country. Amen.”

As you read the information above, you will see that not only is the American flag respected by almost all Americans, but the American Legion makes sure they are respected when they are no longer usable. If you have a worn and tattered flag, don’t just throw it away, give it to a legion member and let it be disposed of with respect.

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