MARYSVILLE — The Marysville American Legion Post 178 hosted its annual flag retirement ceremony on Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Jennings Park Pavilion.
The group has been collecting unserviceable flags from community members in a red painted mailbox outside their building in Marysville.
“Since we’ve had the box out there, this year alone we’ve had dozens of flags dropped off,” said Frank Thiel, Post 178 finance officer. For Thiel, properly retiring an American flag is a symbol of respect.
“I am very respectful of our banner and it needs to be retired appropriately,” said Thiel, who said he doubts many people understand the routine for flag retirement. “Flags that are ready to be retired include those that are fading, fraying, tearing, have seams falling apart or grommets tearing away. I think that people probably have no idea the right way to go about it.”
For community members interested in retiring flags, Thiel suggested that they look up the flag code online. “Having served several years in the military, I have a lot of respect for the flag and the freedom that the flag represents. People should learn that there is a proper way to retire the American flag.”
During the ceremony, members of Post 178 inspected each flag for signs of wear that would warrant retirement. According to the United States Flag Code, “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”
Members of Post 178 had built a fire prior to the event, and one-by-one placed each flag into the flames. While they were burning the flags, they sang songs of national pride. “It’s important to pay your respects to the flag in the proper manner and at the same time try to raise public awareness that there is an actual ceremony to retire the flag,” said Post Cmdr. Jeremiah Fort. “You can’t just throw it away or burn it in any old fire.”
Former Post Cmdr. Ken Cage echoed Fort’s thoughts on the purpose of proper flag retirement.
“It means that we respect our flag very much,” he said. “And we understand that they do wear out, but we respect them right to the end.”
This is the third flag retirement ceremony that Post 178 has performed.
“We get questions all the time from people who say, ‘I’ve got a flag that’s really old, torn and tattered. What do I do with it?’” said Cage. “We are hoping to get more public interest.”
Fort agreed. “This biggest thing is that we would like for people to be aware that we are here and we are more than happy to retire their flag.”
Post 178 retired 55 flags on Sept. 8, but received almost double that amount in their flag drop box. They will retire the rest of the flags in another ceremony. One Marysville resident left a note on their flag describing who it was from and how long it had flown at their residence.
“Our flag mailbox is there for anyone in the community to drop a flag, and if they want to, they can attach a little note telling us the history of it,” said Fort.
The Marysville American Legion Post 178 is located at 119 Cedar Ave. in Marysville.