Faded and tattered from sun, wind and years of use, hundreds of U.S. flags were formally retired and reduced to ashes Monday.
After a 20-minute ceremony at American Legion Post 205 on Highland Avenue, a token number were doused with charcoal lighter fluid and set on fire in a metal barrel.
Hundreds more were carried to an area behind the building for a second ceremony and a much larger fire.
Fred Zamora, commander of Post 205, said the post had collected too many old flags to dispose of them all at once.
“We try to do this a couple times a year,” Zamora said. “We usually only get 100 to 150 flags.”
This time, the sheer number of flags made it impractical to retire them all at a public ceremony held in a corner of the post parking lot, said post member Robert Taylor, who coordinated the ceremony.
“We have about 500 flags in cardboard boxes,” Taylor said. “Some guy brought us 200 by himself.”
Another 150 or so were brought in by Jim Whelan, of American Legion Post 192 in Evans.
Whelan said the two posts decided to combine their flag-retirement efforts this time because the ceremony had been scheduled at Post 205 for a while.
“People can turn in old flags at any American Legion post,” he said.
During the ceremony, the flags are carried forward by an honor guard and then formally inspected to ensure that they are no longer serviceable. The ashes are buried, post members said.
Curly Winter, who inspected the flags, said that in another ceremony he discovered a 19-foot-long flag that still had a lot of life left in it.
“It was in perfect condition,” Winter said. “I didn’t burn that one.
“I’m going to fly it at my home.”