Proper handling: Veterans conduct Flag Retirement Ceremony

Graham Jaehnig/Daily Mining Gazette The Alfred Erickson, American Legion Post in Hancock welcomes the public to dispose of their worn flags with them. Simply drop the flag in the blue metal box outside the main entrance of the building on West Quincy Street.

HANCOCK — The Alfred Erickson Post 186 conducted its annual Flag Retirement Ceremony at its West Quincy Street post Wednesday evening, retiring American flags that are no longer serviceable.

According to the U.S. Flag Code, disposing of an American flag is a sensitive, yet necessary, action that must be taken if a flag is damaged or weather-beaten.

The code states that when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem to display, the flag should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

“A flag may be flimsy material,” recited Post Commander Ron Olson, Navy Veteran, “but its real value is beyond price, for it is the 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.”

The Ceremony for Disposal of Unserviceable Flags is outlined in Resolution No. 440, passed by the 19th National Convention of The American Legion in New York, Sept. 20-23, 1937. The ceremony has been an integral part of American Legion ritual since that date.

“It is fitting and proper that flags which have been used for the decoration of graves on Memorial Day,” the resolution states, “be collected after such service, inspected, and worn and unserviceable flags be condemned and properly destroyed

The approved method of disposing of unserviceable flags has long been that they be destroyed by burning, but no ritual for such destruction or ceremony in connection therewith has been adopted by The American Legion or included in its official manual of Ceremonies.

The purpose of the American Legion’s adopting the particular ceremony was to encourage proper respect for the American flag, and to provide for disposal of unserviceable flags in a dignified manner.

For those who prefer not to burn their own flags but want to retire them properly, the Alfred Erickson Post is one of several throughout the Copper Country that accepts worn flags. The public is welcome to deposit their flags in metal box outside the main entrance of their legion building.

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