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Official Retirement Ceremony Hosted For Disposal Of Flags
Escalon American Legion members dispose of tattered, torn and worn American flags at an official retirement ceremony on Sunday, June 28. Marg Jackson/The Times

When American flags get faded, torn or tattered, there is a way to dispose of them.

“This is a formal flag retirement ceremony,” said Escalon American Legion Post member Vince Giovaniello, as several members gathered for the event on Sunday, June 28.

Hosted at the home of a Legion member, two burn barrels were utilized for the disposal of the flags.

“We do this in honor and respect of the torn and worn flags,” added Giovaniello.

The Legion Post has a flag collection box outside its headquarters on Second Street and Giovaniello said about twice a year, they have collected enough flags to have a retirement ceremony.

“When we get 10 tubs full, we do a ceremony, we can get 40 to 50 flags in a tub, so we are doing about 500 flags today,” he explained. “When I get 10 tubs full, I start scheduling the retirement ceremony.”

In some cases, the Post members collect some of the ashes from the disposal ceremony and then display them at an event.

Gathering for the “Dignified Disposal of Unserviceable Flags” about 8:45 a.m. Sunday, Post 263 Second Vice Commander Barb Willis served as emcee.

“We have a reading, there is an inspection process, the chaplain does a prayer and then we dispose of them in an honorable manner,” Giovaniello said. “It’s part of the National Flag Code and is the only approved method of disposing of an American flag.”

Sergeant-At-Arms Al Bellinger, Inspector Giovaniello, Chaplain Casey Den Ouden and Second Vice Commander Willis were all involved in the ceremony. After the inspection determined all flags were in need of disposal, Willis indicated they would be retired.

“They have reached their present state in a proper service of tribute, memory and love,” Willis read. “Let these faded and worn flags, of our country, be retired and destroyed with respectful and honorable rites.”

Those with flags in need of disposal can drop them off in the collection box at the Post 263 building at 1531 Second St., Escalon.

Giovaniello said members of the Legion Post would also be putting up flags on Main Street in the downtown area on Saturday for the July 4 observance.

Legion member Vince Giovaniello places another tattered flag on a pole so it can be placed into the fire as part of the official retirement ceremony hosted this past weekend by the local Legion post. Marg Jackson/The Times