Dispose of flags properly, respectfully

For patriotic residents, flying the American flag outside their homes each day is source of pride.

But even with the utmost care, the elements and time take their toll on the Star Spangled Banner. The sharp red, white and blue colors fade. Edges tatter and rip, and the fabric wears away.

When that happens, the flag needs to be retired. To help local residents dispose of it properly and respectfully, local organizations are always ready to collect unservicable flags.

Groups such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion are collection sites for old flags, which are then destroyed. American Legion Post 205 in Franklin conducts a special ceremony on June 14 — Flag Day — to retire them respectfully.

“We want to make sure the flags are properly disposed of and properly cared for throughout the time of service,” said Randy Weathers, commander of Post 205. “It’s important that people know that, and we want to do what we can to help.”

According to the U.S. Flag Code, the flag, “when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

During American Legion Post 205’s annual ceremony, veterans and residents gather to honor the flags at the end of their service. Legion members speak about the importance of the banner, and a bugler plays taps as the old flags are burned.

Leaders have set a collection bin outside the door outside the post on Park Avenue, where people can drop off an old flag any time of the day, seven days a week, Weathers said.

But not everyone knows about that service, Weathers said. In another way to reach out to people, the post is working with the Johnson County Recycling District in a large-scale effort to collect tattered flags.

“If you don’t know where we’re at or how to get your flag to us, there are other ways for us to get it from you,” Weathers said.

Collection boxes will be set up throughout the county from Thursday to June 9. All of the flags will then be given to the American Legion, which will properly dispose of them during its annual retirement ceremony on Flag Day, June 14.

“It’s something that’s very important to me, the patriotic aspect of how a flag should be properly displayed and properly retired. It’s the symbol of our country, and you need to show it respect and dignity,” said Karla Coffey, who has spearheaded the effort for the recycling district.

This is the third year the recycling district has conducted the flag drive. In 2015, they gathered about 300 flags. Last year, that jumped to an estimated 1,000.

“We’re really excited about this, and hoping we can even increase those numbers,” Coffey said. “We need to follow the rules for flying a flag, and one of those rules is you don’t want to have that tattered flag out there.”

At a glance

Johnson County Recycling District tattered flag collection

When: Thursday through June 9

What: In honor of Flag Day, the recycling district will be collecting old flags that are no longer serviceable. The flags will be given to American Legion Post 205 in Franklin to be honorably disposed of during a special ceremony.

Where to drop off your flag:

  • Greenwood City Building, 300 S. Madison Ave, Greenwood
  • Greenwood Parks Department, 100 Surina Way, Greenwood
  • Bargersville Town Hall, 24 N. Main Street, Bargersville
  • Edinburgh Public Library, 119 W. Main Cross St., Edinburgh
  • Johnson County Veteran’s Affairs Office, Johnson County Courthouse North Annex (north entrance), 18 W. Jefferson St., Franklin
  • Trafalgar Town Hall, 2770 W. State Road 252, Trafalgar
  • The Johnson County Recycling District, 900 Arvin Rd., Suite A, Franklin.

American Legion Post 205, 1200 Park Ave., Franklin, also will accept old flags any time.

Author photo
Ryan Trares is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rtrares@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2727.