Good­bye Old Glory

R.S. Le­gion burns re­tired flags on Flag Day



— The crafts­man­ship of a United States flag may vary from ban­ner to ban­ner, but what it sym­bol­izes to a pa­tri­otic Amer­i­can holds the same value — one that ex­ceeds mon­e­tary mea­sure­ment.

Vince Mulé, com­man­der of Amer­i­can Le­gion Ma­son-


Dixon Post No. 194 of Ris­ing Sun, made that point Tues­day night dur­ing a rev­er­ent Flag Day cer­e­mony in which a few thou­sand worn and tat­tered U.S. flags of all sizes were burned.

Burn­ing a worn and tat­tered flag is the proper way to dis­pose of it. It is con­sid­ered un­pa­tri­otic to throw away a U.S. flag.

“A flag may be a flimsy bit of printed fab­ric, or it may be a beau­ti­ful ban­ner of the finest silk. It’s fun­da­men­tal

value may be tri­fling or great. But it’s real value is be­yond price, for it is a pre­cious sym­bol of all that we and our com­rades have worked for and died for — a free na­tion of free men and women, true to the faith of the past, de­voted to the ideals and prac­tice of jus­tice, free­dom and democ­racy,” Mulé ex­plained while ad­dress­ing the crowd as­sem­bled be­neath the post’s pavil­ion.

Dur­ing the past year, dat­ing back to Flag Day 2015, res­i­dents had dropped off their worn and tat­tered U.S. flags at Post 194 so those ban­ners could be “hon­or­ably re­tired from ser­vice” in Tues­day night’s cer­e­mony, Mulé told the Whig, not­ing, “We have thou­sands of flags.”

Most of the col­lected worn and tat­tered flags wound up in plas­tic lawn bags. Some were in boxes. Some were loose, par­tic­u­larly the smaller ban­ners that can be hand­held with a wooden stick — the type peo­ple wave at pa­tri­otic pub­lic events, such as an In­de­pen­dence Day pa­rade, and adorn mil­i­tary graves. Most of the tat­tered and worn flags had been stored in a shed on the Post 194 prop­erty.

Re­fer­ring to the burn­ing of the worn and tat­tered U.S. ban­ners, Mulé noted, “We are one of the few posts in our com­mu­nity that still does this.”

The pageantry of the flag re­tire­ment cer­e­mony in­cluded the Up­per Ch­e­sa­peake Com­mu­nity Band, un­der the di­rec­tion of Mary White, per­form­ing sev­eral pa­tri­otic and in­spi­ra­tional num­bers. The list in­cluded “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “Climb Ev­ery Moun­tain,” “I’m a Yan­kee Doo­dle Dandy,” and “God Bless Amer­ica.”

In ad­di­tion, the band played “The Star Span­gled Ban­ner” dur­ing a seg­ment of the cer­e­mony also marked by the crowd recit­ing the Pledge of Al­le­giance and Post 194 chap­lain, Axel Wicks, lift­ing up an open­ing prayer.

With flames shoot­ing up from two, elon­gated metal con­tain­ers in the court­yard — mem­bers of the Com­mu­nity of Ris­ing Sun Fire Co. had started the fire and mon­i­tored the con­trolled burn­ing — Post 194’s color guard as­sem­bled and then pre­sented the first round of “un­ser­vice­able” flags to 2nd Vice Com­man­der Mike Saponaro, 1st Vice Com­man­der Martin Thomp­son and then to Mulé for in­spec­tion.

It was noted dur­ing this process that “these flags have be­come faded and worn over the graves of our de­parted com­rades who have served this coun­try in the var­i­ous Armed Forces dur­ing all wars” and that some of the ban­ners had been dis­played “in var­i­ous pub­lic places.”

The in­spec­tors con­cluded that the pre­sented worn and tat­tered flags were, in­deed, un­ser­vice­able.

“They have reached their present state in a proper ser­vice of trib­ute, mem­ory and love,” Mulé said af­ter his in­spec­tion. “Let these faded flags of our coun­try be re­tired and de­stroyed with re­spect­ful and honorable rites and their places be taken by bright new flags of the same size and kind, and let no grave of our sol­dier or sailor be un­honored or un­marked.”

The flag de­tail marched away from Mulé, who stood at a podium, and it stopped sev­eral feet from the fire, where it stood at at­ten­tion.

Wicks of­fered a prayer and then the Post 194 honor guard ex­e­cuted a ri­fle sa­lute that, as Mulé ex­plained, marked “a fi­nal sa­lute to our de­parted com­rades who have proudly served un­der the United States flag, the sym­bol of this great na­tion.”

Then the color guard placed those worn and tat­tered flags into the fire, prompt­ing the play­ing of “Taps” by bu­gler Ed­ward Webb, a Post 194 honor guard mem­ber.

Con­clud­ing the cer­e­mony, Wicks of­fered a prayer to “all de­parted com­rades who had served un­der this flag while pro­tect­ing our coun­try.”

As they had been in­structed at the out­set, peo­ple at­tend­ing the Flag Day event re­mained stand­ing through­out the cer­e­mony. In ad­di­tion to dozens of res- idents, mem­bers of Boys Scouts Troop 173 of Calvert and Cub Scouts Pack 28 of Ris­ing Sun were in the crowd.

With bags and boxes of worn and tat­tered ban­ners piled on the ground, Post 194 mem­bers and vol­un­teers con­tin­ued burn­ing the flags for at least an hour af­ter the of­fi­cial cer­e­mony had ended.


Hold­ing the worn and tat­tered flags, the honor guard stands at at­ten­tion in front of the fire con­tain­ers af­ter the ban­ners had been deemed un­ser­vice­able.


With flames shoot­ing up from the burn con­tain­ers be­hind them, mem­bers of the Amer­i­can Le­gion Ma­son-Dixon Post 194 color guard hold worn and tat­tered U.S. flags dur­ing the cer­e­mony in Ris­ing Sun.


The Amer­i­can Le­gion Ma­son-Dixon Post 194 honor guard stands at at­ten­tion dur­ing the flag re­tire­ment cer­e­mony.


A mem­ber of Amer­i­can Le­gion Ma­son-Dixon Post 194 of Ris­ing Sun tosses un­ser­vice­able U.S. flags into the fire.

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