Pennsylvania American Legion chapter to retire 5,000 flags at ceremony

By JUSTIN STRAWSER | The Daily Item, Sunbury, Pa. | Published: June 14, 2019

NORTHUMBERLAND, Pa. (Tribune News Service) — Dick Simpson has a reverence for the stars and stripes.

Friday night at 7 p.m., the American Legion Post 44 planned to host its annual Flag Day retirement ceremony with an estimated 5,000 flags to burn.

"It's the only proper way to dispose of the flag," said Simpson, senior vice commander. "June 14 is designated as Flag Day for the country. We thought it would be appropriate to give them a decent retirement, a proper retirement."

Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the American flag on June 14, 1777. President Woodrow Wilson in 1917 officially established the day. The American Legion this year is also celebrating its 100th anniversary, but the Northumberland Post 44 wasn't chartered until 1920 and will celebrate its centennial next year.

The United States Flag Code requires that when a banner “is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

The flags come from Sunbury, Northumberland, Selinsgrove, and all over the Valley, many from cemeteries, Simpson said. They are as small as hands and some are 600-square-feet, like the one that came from Penn College in Williamsport.

Legion Post 44 Commander John Hoffman said the ceremony is about "doing the respectful thing" for the flags.

"It's very dear to us," said Hoffman. "It brings tears to the guys' eyes. It means so much to military members and their families."


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