In Estes Park, Colo., American Legion Post 119 conducted a simple flag-retirement ceremony and honored a past post commander in an evening ceremony on Flag Day.
After the honor guard and bugler performed the ceremony to dispose of worn American flags, the post honored Joseph Leroy “Lee” Wicks, a Vietnam Air Force veteran who passed away a week ago. Due to the pandemic, the family was unable to hold a large memorial service.
About 50 to 60 American Legion Family members, community residents, and Wicks’ family and friends gathered at the post June 14 while adhering to social-distancing policies. Eulogies were given, followed by a presentation of a flag by the post honor guard and the playing of taps.
“Those are the kinds of things that a veterans organization can do and probably should do, if that is the only option,” said Post 119 Commander Loren Shriver, a retired Air Force colonel and former astronaut who logged more than 385 hours in space, including missions on space shuttles Discovery and Atlantis. “It turned out to be a very fitting, partial substitute for a funeral.”
View photos of Post 119’s ceremony here.
Respect for 'The Symbol of Our Nation.' In Missoula, Mont., the United Veteran’s Council’s annual Flag Day U.S. flag retirement ceremony took place at American Legion Post 27’s field and featured the disposal of around 700 unserviceable flags.
Members of Post 27, members from other American Legion posts and other veterans service organizations took part in the ceremony, as did Boy Scouts and other community members.
As the flags were burned, United Veteran’s Council Susan Campbell Reneau and others read from historic documents, including the Gettysburg Address. Reneau – a Department of Montana American Legion Auxiliary life member and the wife of American Legion Post 27 life member and current commander Jack Reneau – is a former schoolteacher who said the ceremony offers her and others the opportunity to teach local youth.
“What was very gratifying to me was the number of young people that came out who were with the Boy Scouts, and also kids that were in elementary school that were helping read the information that I had brought about the history of the flag,” Reneau said. “I am always driven to do things that will encourage the young people to understand the history of our country.”
The ashes from the flags are taken to the Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery, where they are made available to be placed in the graves of veterans buried there in the future.
Reneau believes the public ceremony in Missoula has been going on for around 15 or so years. “It’s very important … that we show respect for the symbol of our country,” she said. “Our flag is truly the most visible symbol of our nation, and it behooves us to be deeply respectful of that symbol.”
View photos of Post 27’s Flag Day ceremony here.
The following are a few examples of how American Legion posts honored the Stars and Stripes in Flag Day celebrations across the nation.
In Meriden, American Legion Post 45 properly disposed of around 4,000 flags during a ceremony on Flag Day morning that it had collected in a drop box throughout the year. The ceremony included remarks from post members and city officials; afterward, a trio of “ghost soldiers” dressed in fatigues and carrying Vietnam-era weapons laid the final flags on the pile and set it ablaze. As the flags burned, a rifle volley was fired and taps was played.
The ceremony also included placed retired POW/MIA flags inside the Prisoners of War crypt.
Post 45 Commander Bob Williams told My Record Journal that the ceremony, now in its 21st year, had special meaning for him because it also recognized first responders battling the coronavirus pandemic. “Thank God we have these men and women here who protect our democracy,” he said.
American Legion Post 123 in Sanibel disposed of dozens of flags during a community ceremony on Flag Day. The ceremony observed social distancing and included a prayer, information on the flag and Flag Day, and the playing of taps.
"Flag Day celebrates America's symbol of unity and stands for our country's devotion to freedom, to the rule of all, and to the equal rights for all," Commander 123 Timothy Moore told the Sanibel-Captiva Islander. “We honor flags that have lived a long honorable life with the retirement ceremony."
Members of Daniel R. Olsen American Legion Post 594 in and Auxiliary Unit 594 conducted the fourth annual Eagan Flag Retirement Ceremony, where they properly disposed of 837 flags that had been gathered from the collection boxes at both the Eagan Community Center and Eagan Sam’s Club. Twenty-two flags were found to be still serviceable and will be donated by the post to local schools, businesses and residents.
Carlisle Bennett American Legion Post 13 in Albuquerque was responsible for retiring around 2,500 U.S. flags that were collected the past year. The post also retired the large flag hanging over the post home.
"It’s important that people understand that the colors are not just thrown in the trash, there's a ceremonial way to dispose of them,” Department Commander Milton Johnson told KOB 4.
In Unadilla, the nation’s longest-running Flag Day parade included members of Joyce-Bell American Legion Post 578, motorcycle clubs, old fire engines and classic cars. The parade allowed vehicles only, and those watching the parade were asked to wear masks and maintain social distance.
"This is the longest continuous Flag Day parade in the United States and we just couldn't let that go," Post 578 Commander George Denys told WICZ. “I'm absolutely proud of everybody that came together. The community came together in a cohesive nature to make this happen.”
In Coweta, members of American Legion Post 226 retired more than 100 flags. “You’ve got to consider all of the people who serve the flag, and particularly those who made the ultimate sacrifice,” Post 226 Commander Don Parrish told the Wagoner County American-Tribune. “You’ve just got to show respect for your country and for the flag that represents it.”
In Chester, members of the Arthur Peterson Post No. 136 led a flag-disposal ceremony near the Lake County Courthouse that properly retired 517 unserviceable flags. The ceremony also included a series of questions and answers about the U.S. flag.
"These flags are a symbol of all the work of our comrades, our military and our veterans," Post 136 Commander and Lake County Veterans Service Officer Courtney Van Zanten told the Daily Leader. "Rather than throw them in the trash, we honorably retire them."
In Wheeling, American Legion Post 1 conducted a flag ceremony at Park View Memorial Gardens. Afterward, post members provided an American flag to Lisa Corp, whose father Marc Brown served in the U.S. Army. After Brown passed away, Corp lost both her stepmother and brother in a fire; Post 1 wanted to provide Corp with something to honor her family and father’s service.”