Veterans of Foreign War and the American Legion held a flag-burning ceremony Friday at the VFW post in Craig, where they ignited roughly 800 retired flags given to them by the community.
The ceremony was in commemoration of Flag Day, which is recognized nationally June 14.
“For all the veterans, the American flag has a special meaning,” said Mark Wick, the commander elect for Craig’s VFW Post No. 4265. “We followed this banner into battle.”
Veterans folded each flag before dropping them into a metal trash bin filled with flames. Prior to setting the flags aflame, the men recited a flag ceremony tribute, giving each flag a respectful farewell.
“This flag has served its nation well and long. It has worn to a condition in which it should no longer be used to represent the nation,” said Johnny Garcia. “This flag represents all of the flags collected and being retired from service today. The honor we show here for this one flag, we are showing for all the flags, even those not physically here.”
The men proceeded to throw the first flag into the flames. After the flag was burned, they continued to burn the other flags — a process that started at 9:30 a.m. and ended in the late afternoon.
A barbeque also took place at about noon, giving veterans and spectators an opportunity to enjoy hotdogs and hamburgers from the grill.
“The meaning of the American flag is independence for everyone,” Garcia said. “The red proves it by the blood that was spilled. The white represents the purity. The blue represents the blue sky, and the stars represent the sky that we fought under.”
Garcia’s respect for the American flag was evident at the event.
“I fought hard for this country,” Garcia said, noting that he’s a Vietnam vet. “Was I scared? Hell yes.”
The flags were collected in a new red-mail box that the VFW painted after it was donated from the United States Post office. The mailbox sits in front of the VFW, where the community can drop retired flags, old prescription glasses and empty ink cartridges.
The flag burning was done in a contained environment to ensure that the post was properly disposing the material.
“We’re responsible adults,” Wick said.
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