Snohomish County veterans give flags an honorable farewell

ARLINGTON — Close to 30 veterans from Marysville, Arlington, Everett and Lynnwood descended upon Jim Eastbury’s Arlington estate to give more than 100 flags an honorable farewell.

Marysville American Legion Post 178 and its Ladies Auxiliary conducted their flag disposal ceremony on the property of Eastbury, a fellow Marysville Legion member, who also hosted a pot luck picnic for the attendees.

Post 178 Cmdr. Ken Cage had inviting anyone who owned a flag that had “outlived its usefulness” to contact him to arrange for the proper disposal of those flags, and he found himself with so many flags that he had to modify the ceremony to more easily accommodate their disposal.

“In four plastic bags, we found not only American flags, but also Washington state and even a few Canadian flags in there,” Cage said. “We invited all our members to take part in disposing of them.”

The preferred method for disposing of an American flag that is deemed no longer serviceable is burning, which the veterans did by placing the flags on an open fire after they had “become faded and worn in a tribute of service and love.” While the participants wore more casual clothes in response to the day’s hot summer weather, they read from their scripts precisely to conduct the ceremony properly.

“The flag is a direct symbol of this nation that deserves all the respect of this nation,” Cage said. “When people see the flag, they know who it represents. You don’t want it going in the garbage or a landfill once it’s worn out.”

Cage explained that, once the flag is reduced to ashes, it’s considered disposed of and there is no additional protocol for the ashes.

Legion Auxiliary Unit 178 President Kay Smith had not known about such flag disposal ceremonies until her involvement in this one, but she was pleased to see Legion and Auxiliary members joined by members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars from Lynnwood and the VFW Ladies Auxiliary from Everett for this common patriotic cause.

“Treating the flag with honor overwhelms me with emotion,” Smith said.

The day was not entirely devoted to ceremony, however, as veterans enjoyed a home-cooked barbecue meal with friends and relatives. Everett VFW Auxiliary members Ruth Herren and Barbara Miller, both friends of Eastbury, not only appreciated putting the flags to rest in a respectful manner, but also spoke highly of the fellowship and camaraderie of the occasion. Smith took the time to remind her fellow attendees that the Marysville Legion Auxiliary will be conducting membership drives at the Tulalip Amphitheatre “Night Out Against Crime” Aug. 3 and Third Street’s HomeGrown Aug. 13-14. The Auxiliary is also still collecting supplies for its next shipment of care packages for troops serving overseas.

For Eastbury, the day’s events represented an opportunity for him to show his support for his country and those who have served it.

“When I was 19, I joined the Navy and my father told me, ‘You’re an American boy, so don’t come back unless you’re an honorable son,’” Eastbury said. “He inspired me to do and accomplish so much, and these people around me also inspire me. I deeply love my country and I think it’s important to get involved in it, so I’m sharing my wealth with some of the dearest people on Earth.”

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