HARRISON — Some 250 to 300 faded or torn American flags that graced the gravesites of veterans in the town’s six cemeteries have been retired and replaced.
The retirement ceremony took place at the Ronald G. St. John VFW Post 9328 on Route 35 on Sunday.
“At least once a year we get all the flags from the cemeteries in town and retire them,” Cmdr. Cecil Barker said.
The ceremony, which dates back nearly 100 years, is addressed under Public Law 94-344, known as the Federal Flag Code. The code contains rules for handling and displaying the U.S. flag. The language of the federal code makes clear that the flag is a living symbol.
The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, is expected to be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning, according to the code.
Only one flag is generally used in the ceremony, which is representative of all the flags to be burned in the service. The remainder of the flags are collected and incinerated. The flag is hoisted on the flagstaff as the participants read passages about the service the flag has rendered to the United States and that it represents all the flags to be retired that day. The flag is then lowered and retired.
Barker said throughout the year residents bring flags to the post to be retired. Barker said he hopes to have a box made available for flags at the post and and the Post Office downtown for residents to place flags to be retired.