Memorial Day: a time for fun and remembrance

PFC Sam Richard, USMC, and LTC Cyle Richard, US Army Retired, give a final salute to flags at the Memorial Day flag retirement ceremony at the VFW. Photo by Nancy Saathoff.

Burning of American flags out of respect
They were burning the American flag across the country this Memorial Day weekend—not in protest but out of respect. It’s the proper way of disposing of a flag that is no longer in a condition to be a fitting emblem.
“It is improper to display a tattered, weather worn flag. It should be disposed of, preferably in a formal ceremony conducted by organizations such as the VFW [the Veterans of Foreign Wars],” according to Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens. “However, an individual may privately dispose of an unusable flag as long as protocol is followed.”
The ceremony involves the proper folding of the flag and its placement atop a well-supervised fire hot enough to ensure its complete destruction. The ritual includes showing respect by saluting during the disposal process and/or reciting the pledge of allegiance.
Weber says that “there is no particular day when the disposal procedure takes place. But, in many parts of the country it has become part of the Memorial Day celebration. Perhaps it is because the flag helps to remind us why we observe the holiday.”
According to the VA a total of more than 150,000 service men and women have lost their lives in all the military campaigns since World War II, including Korea, Vietnam, Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, the Iraqi and Afghanistan wars as well as the continuing Global War on terror.
There are more than 19 million veterans among us, including 620,000 of the 16 million who served our nation during World War II. They are living memorials, each and every one of them, of the valor and gallantry of all who have served in the military throughout our country’s history.
“Most of us will be out playing with our kids and grandkids this weekend. We’ll probably eat a little too much. We’ll catch up on the latest doings of our neighbors, friends and family members. We’ll be busy celebrating the non-official beginning of summer. Is it too much to ask that we take a few minutes to bow our heads in tribute to the men and women who gave their lives for us? And, perhaps, you may want to say a little prayer for the safety of those who are in service today,” Weber suggested.
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