Tattered American flags are retired with honor

The stars and stripes pattern of the American flag is one of the rare things held sacred by nearly every person in America. Whether you’re listening to the National Anthem or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, your focus is on the flag.

Central Lyon fifth grade students and members of the American Legion had their focus on the flag Wednesday, April 5, when American Legion Post 103 performed a flag retirement ceremony.

The fifth grade students were special guests at the ceremony after being invited to participate in an essay contest sponsored by the American Legion, in which the students wrote about what the flag means to them. Central Lyon student, Riley Weiler, was named winner of the contest; she read her essay out loud to her classmates, teachers and a handful of members of the public, and was then presented with a citation of appreciation by Lyle Schaffer.

At the flag retirement ceremony, each tattered and worn flag, its colors fading, was brought before the Legion’s inspection team, which recommended “honorable retirement from further service” for the old flag.

Students listened in silence as Legion members described the condition of the flags and explained why they recommended retirement for the flags. When the inspection was complete, students and Legion members stood in salute to the flag and taps was played as a final expression of patriotism.

As the first flag was being prepared for retirement, Legion member Lee Klosterbuer and the fifth grade teachers encouraged students to always be aware when the flag is present and to thank veterans whenever they see them. Klosterbuer also reminded everyone in attendance to be mindful of the condition of flags being flown, whether they’re on someone’s yard, porch or somewhere else. She encouraged citizens to bring their tattered flags to the American Legion Room (in the Forster Community Center), post office or VFW for proper disposal. Flag etiquette also indicates that flags flown in the dark should always be illuminated and the nation’s flag should always fly higher than any other flags flown near it.

The students then watched as the first couple of tattered flags caught flames. They were each presented with a small flag as they filed back to the school bus.

Legion members retired dozens of tattered flags in the flames before the ceremony came to a close.

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