Worn Flag Deposit Box installed at senior center

Published 12:41 pm Thursday, July 13, 2023

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By BARTON PERKINS | Staff Writer

PELHAM – A worn flag deposit box was installed at the senior center by the Boy Scouts of Troop 404 and the American Legion Post 555 on Thursday, July 6.

Many people own American flags, but most are unaware there is a proper way to dispose of them once they have grown tattered and need replacement. As of 1976, the U.S. Flag code states, ‘ The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.’ 

However, burning an American flag can prove hazardous or even disrespectful if not done with the proper respect. As a result, groups like the American Legion exist for people to donate old flags to with the promise that they will be ‘retired’ properly and respectfully. Pelham’s own Post 555 and Squadron 555 have fulfilled this purpose for many years in the community.

“Area businesses, organizations and individuals who need a worn flag replaced (or a new flag) contact us, and we perform a flag replacement or flag raising at their location,” said Donald Walker, SAL Squadron 555 Commander.

The retirement ceremony itself is an elaborate affair in recognition of the symbolic importance of the American flag. The flag is presented to the Legion commander, who inspects the flag to see if it should in fact be retired. After confirming that the flag should be discarded, a prayer is given before the flag is dipped in kerosene and respectfully placed on a small fire. 

“Post 555 and Squadron 555 have received a number of flags for retirement over the years, but there has generally not been a good means to get the flags other than when we conduct retirement ceremonies,” said Walker.

Squadron 555 wanted an easier way for people to dispose of their old flags outside of scheduling a retirement ceremony with them. So, Squadron 555 decided to set up a receptacle for people to deposit their American flags.

The deposit box was initially acquired by Squadron Adjutant Ron Koonce and was refurbished and painted by the scouts of Troop 404. 

Then on Thursday, July 6, the deposit box was officially unveiled at Post 555’s first responders awards ceremony. It was then placed in front of the senior center.

Currently, there are no plans to install other worn flag deposit boxes elsewhere around Pelham.