VFW 8736 disposes of old U.S. flags
By LENNY C. LEPOLA
News Assistant Managing Editor
The United States Flag is never to be taken lightly; just ask any veteran who has fought under the banner we often take for granted. As Veteran’s Day approaches, we may want to take down our old flag that has faded and become tattered from days and nights outdoors in sun, wind, rain and snow.
But how do we dispose of that old flag after we’ve hoisted the new one?
Old flags are burned, but there is a proper protocol, and that protocol is most often accompanied by a ceremony conducted by local veterans organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
During the ceremony, the flag should be folded in its customary manner. It is important that the fire be fairly large and of sufficient intensity to ensure a complete burning of the flag. The flag is placed on the fire. The individuals performing the ceremony come to attention, salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and have a brief period of silent reflection.
After the flag is completely consumed, the fire should then be safely extinguished and the ashes buried.
On Saturday, September 15, members of VFW Post 8736 burned over 700 U.S. Flags that were no longer fit for flying. Most were collected at the Sunbury Branch of the U.S. Post Office at a Flag Disposal Box maintained by the post.
The event was held at the Chris and Lynn Callen property and was preceded by VFW Post Commander Jerry Jodrey reading the official flag burning rules, followed by a prayer for the future safety of America.
The ceremony ended with VFW Honor Guard Bugler Chris Callen playing Taps; a hog-roast prepared by Gary Tucker immediately followed the ceremony.
Throughout the year Big Walnut area residents and businesses may deposit used flags in the official Sunbury VFW Post 8736 flag repository box located in front of the Sunbury Post Office, or drop flags off at the Sunbury VFW post during normal business hours.
The federal flag code says the universal custom is to display the U.S. flag from sunrise to sunset on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in the open, but when a patriotic effect is desired the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during hours of darkness. Also, the U.S. Flag should not be displayed when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.
Additional U.S. Flag etiquette is outlined in the US Flag Code.
When displaying the U.S. Flag on the same staff with another flag, the U.S. Flag is flown at the peak. When grouped on different staffs, the U.S. flag goes to its own right, and flags of other nations are flown at the same height.
When marching, the U.S. Flag is to the marcher’s right, the observer’s left. On a speaker’s platform, a displayed U.S. Flag must be above and behind the speaker. If mounted on a staff it is on the speaker’s right.
Never use the flag for decoration. Use bunting with the blue on top, then white, then red. All persons present in uniform should render the military salute. Members of the armed forces and veterans who are present, but not in uniform, may render the military salute. All other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.
Over a street, the Union (stars) face north or east depending on the direction of the street. On special days, the flag may be flown at half-staff. On Memorial Day it is flown at half-staff until 12 noon and then raised.
Do not let the U.S. Flag touch the ground. Do not fly flag upside down unless there is an emergency. Do not carry the flag flat, or carry things in it. Do not use the flag as clothing. Do not store the flag where it can get dirty. Do not use it as a cover. Do not fasten it or tie it back. Always allow it to fall free. Do not draw on, or otherwise mark the flag.