American Legion R.E. (Peppy) Blount Post No. 320 of Gilmer, assisted by the Gilmer High School Air Force Junior ROTC, held a flag disposal ceremony for dozens of worn and damaged American flags Saturday in Gilmer.
Other than the participants, more than 20 persons attended the event outside the Upshur County Senior Citizens Center, where the flags were burned in a barrel in accordance with the United States Flag Code.
Local American Legion Adjutant Vance Lowry quoted the code as saying that when flags are in such condition that they are “no longer a fitting emblem for display,” they “should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”
Local Post Commander Jerry Holsworth estimated that 60 to 70 flags were destroyed during the 34-minute ceremony, and many were still left over for disposal later in the day. He estimated the total would reach more than 100 by day’s end.
Local Legion Sgt.-at-Arms Jimmy Sanders, who was burnmaster for the ceremony, declared before the burning that the flags “have become unserviceable as a result of appropriate use.” The Legion had solicited members of the public to turn in such flags for the ceremony.
Holsworth said the items would be retired “with the respect they deserve.”
Three members of the Junior ROTC disposed of the flags, which were folded across the ends of metal bars before being dropped into the fire in the barrel. They were Bo Dauster, Michael Williams and Branden Griffin.
Before the burning, four other members of the high school group—Aaron Martinez, Chris Preuninger, Dillon Poston, and Joshua Beal—performed as an Honor Guard, posting the American flag and American Legion flag. The Jr. ROTC instructor, Sgt. Rob Gannon, also was present.
Local Post Asst. Chaplain Billy Walker said the opening and closing prayers.
During the gathering, Holsworth mentioned that every American Legion post has a service officer to help veterans get benefits to which they are entitled. Veterans need not be Legion members to receive assistance, he said.
Many veterans being discharged nowadays “are not properly informed” about the benefits they can receive, Holsworth said.
Holsworth also said the Legion is the largest U.S. organization for veterans, and that it is self-funded.
He also mentioned the Cruiser Car Club and O’Reilly Auto Car Show, which is set for 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday to raise funds for an outreach fair the Legion plans to sponsor for veterans in July.
The fund-raiser will be held at O’Reilly Auto Parts dealership on U.S. 271, and for more information, call car club President Brenda Jeffery at 903-790-7203.