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The Madison Record

Boxes now available to collect U.S. flags for retirement

MADISON – Like any manmade item, an American flag eventually reaches a point of disrepair and can no longer fly with pride at a home, an office or a school.

For disposal (or ‘retirement’ in military vernacular), residents now can place worn or damaged flags in collection boxes at Fire Station 1, 2 or 3. The project involved coordination with Madison Fire and Rescue Department and support from Fire Chief David Bailey.

Aun’yae Johnson, a student at James Clemens High School, assisted with securing collection boxes. This strategic installation of permanent boxes for flag retirement gives easy access to residents across the city.

“Aun’yae partnered with American Legion, Post 229 to address what has been a longtime need in our city — a place for residents to drop off flags that are no longer serviceable and ready for proper retirement,” Jean Downs said. Downs serves as Vice Commander of Madison American Legion, Post 229.

John Few, editor of “The Madison Record,” donated the boxes. Johnson presented one of the boxes to Mayor Paul Finley and Madison City Council at their meeting on Oct. 25.

“We chose the three Madison Fire Stations as the locations for the flag retirement boxes because we thought this would be an easy place for people to remember, and it also provides a location that can be monitored by the crew at each fire station,” Johnson said. “The newspaper boxes donated by ‘The Madison Record’ made perfect collection bins for the flags.”

To repurpose the boxes, Johnson applied a fresh coat of paint and labelled the box fronts with identifying verbiage. When boxes are full, American Legion members will empty and arrange for the flags to have a proper retirement. According to the U.S. Flag Code, only U.S. flags are required to have the procedure for retirement. Individuals should not place other types of flags in the collection boxes.

“Residents from across the City of Madison are constantly reaching out to the American Legion asking where they can take flags that are no longer serviceable. When Aun’yae wanted to take on this project, the American Legion was very happy to sponsor her for this project,” Post 229 Commander Larry Vannoy said.

Vannoy is serving as Johnson’s Project Advisor for the Gold Award.

Setting up the collection boxes was the first component of the flag project. The second component includes writing instructions to retire a flag, along with correct steps to conduct a retirement ceremony.

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