James Edwards of the Selma American Legion Post 20 holds 12 folded flags that were tattered and faded and deemed “unserviceable.” Below, the flags are then placed carefully in a controlled fire in a special ceremony to dispose of the flags honorably while saluting them and remembering the veterans who lost their lives to keep the flag’s broad stripes and bright stars. --Ashley Johnson
James Edwards of the Selma American Legion Post 20 holds 12 folded flags that were tattered and faded and deemed “unserviceable.” Below, the flags are then placed carefully in a controlled fire in a special ceremony to dispose of the flags honorably while saluting them and remembering the veterans who lost their lives to keep the flag’s broad stripes and bright stars. -- Ashley Johnson

American Legion retires American Flags

Published 8:32pm Saturday, April 20, 2013

Members of the American Legion Post 20 stood in salute of 12 American flags in a special ceremony to dispose of them Saturday. With friends and family gathered to watch their veterans honor the flag of the country they serve, and put it to rest in a respectable way.

“You would be surprised how many people do not know how to dispose of flags properly and just throw them away,” Legion Cmdr. Bob McMasters said Saturday after leading the ceremony to burn flags honorably that were tattered, torn and faded.

“Its not taught in schools anymore and you can go to ball games and see how many people actually stand for the national anthem,” Legion Vice Cmdr. Paul Duke added. “People don’t realize when to salute and when not to, how to dispose a flag and how to properly hang a flag — that’s just how the world is now.”

Several commanders in the Legion Post spoke as they stood at attention, said several ceremonial statements about the American flag and what it meant, and then presented the Legion commander with the unserviceable flags.

Duke said the ceremony is moving because men have died for the flag, and the flag should be treated with the highest respect.

And that is why the 12 flags that were burned Saturday were burned after careful inspection and saluted to give the utmost respect to something that is more than just fabric — to those veterans and members of the Selma American Legion it is a symbol of freedom. Duke and McMasters even said the ceremony makes them reflect on those who have lost their lives in service for the country.

“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, true to the faith of the past, devoted to the ideals and practice of Justice, Freedom and Democracy,” McMasters read to those in the ceremony.

The legion post said they have close to 30 more flags to dispose of but did not want to do them all in one day. They want to encourage those in their community to contact them to dispose of the flags instead of throwing them away.

Editor's Picks