RANDOLPH - In a ceremony held recently at the American Legion Post 181 in Randolph, legion members were assisted by Randolph Boy Scout Troop 103 in the honorable retirement of the sacred American flag.
In observance of Flag Day, which was last Saturday, local veterans honored old and tattered American flags by burning them. In a ceremony steeped in tradition and respect, flags of all sizes - tattered and faded - were placed in a fire pit to be disposed.
Legion Chaplain Randy Honey said the disposal of the American flag is referred to as the "Honorable Retirement of the Sacred American Flag." A large number of U.S. flags of varying sizes and conditions of wear are properly disposed of, or "retired" as Honey emphasized.
Members of the Randolph American Legion Post 181, assisted by Randolph Boy Scout Troop 103, honorably retire a large number of tattered and worn American flags in a respectful ceremony. From left, members of Boy Scout Troop 103, Cale Hawkins, Keegan Howard, Eric Kanoff and Eagle Scout Brodie Hawkins.
Photo by Deb Everts
"You don't take the American flag and throw it in the trash and you don't put it in a garbage bag," he noted. "When the flag gets worn out and tattered, this is the honorable way to discard it. There's one thing about this ceremony ... when the flames are gone and you look into the bottom of the pit where it was burned, there is nothing left - not a single ash. It's like the flag went back to God."
Honey said whenever the flag on a veteran's grave gets faded, torn or soiled, the legion disposes of them honorably. Every year, before Memorial Day, the Boy Scouts help the legion members put the flags out and then after the Fourth of July, they retrieve the flags and sort them out - keeping those that are still good and honorably disposing of the damaged flags.
"We are proud of our flag and out of respect for our country, we want to keep the flag bright and in good condition," Honey proudly said. "Our flag is our country ... our country is our flag."
According to the American Legion, the "Ceremony for Disposal of Unserviceable Flags" has been an integral part of legion ritual since 1937. The service is not only a way to honor the flag, but also honor American veterans. Old, worn-out or unwanted American flags can be taken to most veterans organizations for proper disposal. People who aren't familiar with the proper protocol or procedures for disposing of U.S. flags are discouraged from burning flags.