In 1937, the National Convention of the American Legion outlined the proper way to dispose of worn out American flags—by burning them respectfully.
On Friday, June 14, the Wilber American Legion Post 101 will hold its first flag retirement ceremony at 6 p.m. in Legion Park.
“For the longest time, the Dorchester Legion Post has done this. We are taking this over from them,” said Dave Packer, who served as Post 101 Commander until June 12.
“It’s something we kind of wanted to bring to light, the change of venue. We are going to be guided through it by the Dorchester post,” he said.
Packer said a ceremonial flag burning is an acceptable way to retire old flags, though some people have thought it disrespectful in the past.
“We will burn the flags properly, and in our Legion handbook, there’s a procedure,” he said. “We’ll do a ceremony, then the flags after that. They’re taken care of in a respectful manner versus a protesting manner.”
Often, flags are burned folded up in a triangle shape—the proper way to fold a flag—but Packer said at the ceremony, they will be laid flat so that they burn a little bit easier, which also is acceptable.
Packer said a flag should be retired if it’s tattered.
“A flag can be repaired once and then reflown,” he said. “A lot of people when they order their flags ask to have them double sewn on the side so they last a little longer.”
Old flags may be given to any area Legion member to be retired.
The public is invited to attend the ceremony, as well as a meal afterward provided by the American Legion Auxiliary.
“We will have a lot of flags to retire,” Packer said.