LEWISTON — The annual Liberty Festival, Lewiston-Auburn’s Fourth of July celebration, began Sunday night with a flag retirement ceremony led by the L/A Veterans Council.

Festival organizers Cathy McDonald and Richard Martin were happy to see the success of this new event, attending by dozens.

“This is a new thing we added, and we weren’t sure how many people would come out,” McDonald said. She and the other event organizers were pleased with the turnout. 

“The Fourth of July isn’t just about fireworks,” she said. “It’s about celebrating and remembering those who’ve served us. We wanted to add an educational piece.”

An official flag retirement ceremony is the only proper and respectful way to dispose of an American flag. The ceremony began with the playing of the national anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance, followed by a history of “The Stars and Stripes.”

The first ceremonial flag was cut into specific pieces and placed in a fire pit. A cannon blast was shot off as the flag burned.

The L/A Veterans Council collected almost 25 retired flags to dispose of at this year’s ceremony.

Maurice “Mo” Fournier, a member of the council, and Willie Danforth, chaplain of AMVETS Post 6 of New Gloucester were the honored veterans in charge of flag disposal.

“Being a veteran, I’ve always wanted to honor the American flag by properly disposing of it with dignity,” Danforth said.

“After holding it, it’s just as important when you lay it to rest,” he said.

“It means something. It’s an honor,” Fournier said.

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