By Amanda Kimble
A Flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gauze, or a beautiful banner of finest silk. Its intrinsic value may be trifling or great; but its real value is beyond price, for it is a precious symbol of all that we and our comrades have worked for and lived for, and died for a free Nation of free men, true to the faith of the past, devoted to the ideals and practice of Justice, Freedom and Democracy…
– Unserviceable Flag Ceremony presented by the American Legion.
Thirteen horizontal stripes – seven red and six white – representing the original 13 colonies. Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina and Rhode Island. Fifty stars representing the states of The Union.
The red, white and blue are equally symbolic. Red for hardiness and valor. White for purity and innocence. Blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice.
Tuesday, June 14 is Flag Day, when the nation celebrates the flag and its symbolism. It’s also the day when, per American Legion tradition and in accordance with the U.S. Flag Code, flags of all sizes and made from various materials will be ceremoniously retired at various location across the nation.
Turnbow-Higgs American Legion Post 240 in Stephenville will host a 6 p.m. event when Legionaries are joined by local Boy Scouts and other community members to officially and properly dispose of flags which are no longer a worthy and fitting emblem.
“Whether the flags are torn and tattered or faded, the U.S. Flag Code suggests they should be considered no longer useful – or unserviceable – and should be properly destroyed, preferably by fire. The American Legion flag retirement ceremony is a dignified and somewhat solemn occasion intended ìenhance respect to the flag in your community and provide a much-needed service to those who have flags needing to be retired,” according to legion.org/flag/ceremony.
The American Legion collects unserviceable flags throughout the year at Post 240, located off of East Washington Street.
Unserviceable Flag Ceremony
The post assembles in meeting, out-of-doors, at night. Members are aligned in two parallel rows about 20 feet apart, facing each other. Officers are at their stations. A small fire is burning opposite the commander and beyond the rows of members.
First Vice-Commander: “Comrade Commander, since these Flags have become faded and worn in a tribute of service and love, I also recommend that they be fittingly destroyed.”
Commander: “Comrades, we have presented here these Flags of our Country which have been inspected and condemned as unserviceable. They have reached their present state in a proper service of tribute, memory and love.
“A Flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gauze, or a beautiful banner of finest silk. Its intrinsic value may be trifling or great; but its real value is beyond price, for it is a precious symbol of all that we and our comrades have worked for and lived for, and died for a free Nation of free men, true to the faith of the past, devoted to the ideals and practice of Justice, Freedom and Democracy.
“Let these faded Flags of our Country be retired and destroyed with respectful and honorable rites and their places be taken by bright new Flags of the same size and kind, and let no grave of our soldier or sailor dead be unhonored and unmarked. Sergeant-at-Arms, assemble the Color Guard, escort the detail bearing the Flags and destroy these Flags by burning. The members shall stand at attention.”
(Color Guard forms. The detail about faces. Preceded by the Color Guard the detail marches down center to the fire. National Colors cross over and take position on the right of the fire, facing the Commander. Post Standard takes position on left of fire. The detail lines up behind the fire, which is burning low.)
Chaplain: “Almighty God, Captain of all hosts and Commander over all, bless and consecrate this present hour.
“We thank Thee for our Country and its Flag, and for the liberty for which it stands. ìTo clean and purging flame we commit these Flags, worn out in worthy service. As they yield their substance to the fire, may Thy Holy Light spread over us and bring to our hearts renewed devotion to God and Country. Amen.”