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American Legion, VFW to retire flags on Flag Day

MADISON – Two veteran groups have scheduled a respectful ceremony that will give added meaning to Flag Day on June 14.

Madison American Legion, Post 229 and Veterans of Foreign Wars or VFW, Post 5162 welcome the public to participate in a flag retirement ceremony at 5 p.m. The event will be held in downtown Madison on Front Street at Captain Jesse Ollie Wikle Jr. Veterans Memorial Park.

Following a formal ceremony, residents will join the two veteran organizations in retiring hundreds of U.S. flags.

“Prior to the event, community members are encouraged to take unserviceable flags to any of Madison’s four fire stations, where designated flag drop boxes are located,” Post 229 Commander Larry Vannoy said. “Or if you want to retire your own flag, it can be brought to the ceremony on the 14th.”

Aunyae Johnson, a Madison Girl Scout, made the four drop boxes and created a formal flag retirement ceremony as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award project a few years ago. “Since then, we have collected thousands of flags and retired them,” Vannoy said.

“Many people believe that a flag should be burned if it touches the ground. This is not true,” Jean Downs said. Downs is Auxiliary Unit 229 President and Post 229 Vice Commander. Downs quoted the Flag Code: “The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, floor, water or merchandise.”

Everyone should treat a flat respectfully, “but the Flag Code does not state that the flag must be burned,” Downs said. “As a matter of fact, if a flag does touch the ground and gets soiled, it’s perfectly acceptable to wash it in a washing machine.”

Flag Day’s history goes back to the Revolutionary War, when colonists were not fighting under a united, single flag. In June 1775, the Continental Congress met to create the Continental Army, a unified fighting force, and created the first ‘American’ flag, the Continental Colors. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson officially established June 14 as Flag Day.

American Legion passed a resolution about flag retirement ceremonies in 1937. The U.S. flag is considered such a sacred symbol that burning it in an undignified manner constitutes desecration. Therefore, ceremonies are held in a specific manner.

For more information, email commander@americanlegionpost229.org.

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