Flag retirement ceremony scheduled for Friday

David Peck


An always moving ceremony will be conducted Friday evening at the Lovell downtown veterans memorial park as local veterans will gather to retire worn American flags.

Held annually on Flag Day, the flag retirement ceremony will be conducted by members of Robert Boyd Stewart American Legion Post 11 at 6 p.m. at the veterans park.

Post chaplain Jim Thomas, who will lead the ceremony, said the flag is a symbol of unity, something all Americans can come together to respect.

“In America, we find ourselves in a difficult situation,” Thomas wrote in a letter to the editor. “At a time when there is much tension and argument, we need to find something to bring us together, something we can all respect. I humbly suggest this item is the American flag – Old Glory.”

The Legion program is designed to honor the flag but also educate citizens about the proper way to retire a flag. In the process, the program asks attending citizens to ponder the greater meaning behind the flag.

Flags are to be retired “with dignity and respect,” Thomas said, and in order for that to happen, they must be burned and the ashes buried.

In the past, Post 11 has used a program based on the 13 stripes, representing the original 13 colonies, each stripe representing a different aspect of American history. This year, the ceremony from the National Flag Foundation is based on the 13 folds made when a flag is presented at military funeral, though, as in past retirement ceremonies, the stripes of the flag will be carefully cut, removed and burned one at a time, each action holding a special significance.

After the ceremonial flag is retired, post members will retire and burn other worn flags collected by or given to Legionnaires prior to the event. Citizens may also bring a flag to the ceremony.

Anyone wishing to retire a flag may present it for retirement at the ceremony or give it to a member of Post 11 prior to the event. Thomas said he is happy to receive flags at his home, 144 West Main in Lovell, or he can be contacted at 272-4246.

“The United States of America really is a great place to live, and has been for nearly 250 years,” Thomas said. “A lot of men and women have dedicated and given their lives, both military and civilian, to make it or keep it that way. Come help us celebrate the symbol that says ‘America.’”