“These flags may have cost a lot of money or they may be flags that were given away; but their real value is that they are a symbol of all we veterans and your parents and grandparents have worked for, lived for and some have died for — a free country of free people who believe in justice, freedom and democracy.”

— Part of the American Legion’s U.S. flag retirement ceremony

By Gene Deason — Brownwood Bulletin

Representatives of three local military service organizations will gather on Flag Day to properly retire U.S. flags that have been deemed no longer serviceable.

“We urge everyone who has a flag that has become worn or damaged to turn it in so we can properly dispose of it,” Al Moore, first vice commander of the local American Legion, said. “Please bring them by a drop-off point so they can be retired in an honorable way.”

Drop-off locations include Kwik Kar Oil and Lube, the American Legion on Crockett Drive, the Veterans of Foreign Wars on Stephen F. Austin Road and the Brown County Veterans Service office on Memorial Drive.

The ceremony is scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, June 14, which is Flag Day.

“The public is not only invited to attend, they are encouraged to come,” Moore said. “We especially hope groups like Boy Scouts and others will be able to be there.”

Representatives from each of the three sponsoring organizations — American Legion, Pecan Valley Detachment of the Marine Corps League and the Veterans of Foreign Wars — will participate in the ceremony.

The ceremony will first certify that the flags have been inspected by at least two veterans group members, and that they recommend that they all be retired honorably because they are faded or worn after a period of service.

Then, the retired flags will be respectfully burned.

According to a booklet published by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, citing federal codes, flags that are no longer a fitting emblem for display should be destroyed in a dignified manner, and the preferred method is by burning.

“Some people think it’s appropriate to first cut up the flag before burning, but that’s not supposed to be done,” Moore said. In previous years, cutting recommended by several non-military organizations as a means to make the retired flags easier to incinerate, but many have backed off that since it is not specifically supported by federal codes.

“We hope people with tattered flags will choose to retire them and replace them,” Moore said. “And we invite them to the ceremony on Flag Day.”