Veterans Retire Flags With Dignity - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

06/14/05

Veterans Retire Flags With Dignity

A group of veterans gathered on Flag Day Tuesday to salute the red, white and blue.

American Legion Post 119 hosted a solemn flag retirement ceremony.

The United States Flag Code outlines the proper disposal of an American flag. It says old flags that are no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America. And to the republic for which it stands," said veterans who gathered outside American Legion Post 119.

"Present these flags to the first vice commander for his inspection," ordered the post commander.

"We thank you for our country and its flag and for the liberty for which it stands," said the presiding chaplain.

The post hosted a solemn ceremony to dispose of old, tattered American flags.

"We're pretty lucky in this country to have all the freedoms that we do have. And if it wasn't for the veterans we wouldn't have all these rights," said Army veteran, Brenda Melgeorge.

"For it is a precious symbol of all that we and our comrades have worked for and lived for and died for. A free nation of free men and women," said the commander.

"To a clean and purging flame we commit these flags, worn out in worthy service," the chaplain told the group.

"I feel that it's a very high honor to dispose of our flags, retire them in such a respectful manner,"
Melgeorge explained.

"I'm a veteran. Retired military. And I've always respected my country and the flag," said veteran Chuck Nilges, who's helped with the flag burning ceremony for several years.

"It stands for something pretty special," Melgeorge explained, "Tears. Happiness. And I remember all the friends we've lost over the years too."

"Greatest. Greatest country in the world. Of which I'm proud to be a portion," said veteran Pete Carter.  Carter admits he can't talk about the flag without getting misty eyed.

"When I see the flag flying, I know that America is safe and beautiful," he said.

The flags burned during the formal ceremony represent just a small portion of the total. American Legion Post 119 will properly retire more than 500 old flags, collected from various sites throughout South Mississippi.

By Steve Phillips

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