The Richmond Register

November 17, 2013

Veterans retire flags in cemetery, burning them and burying the ashes

By Bill Robinson
Register Editor

RICHMOND — Every year, groups affiliated with the Madison County Veterans Committee go to Madison County schools and teach flag etiquette to fifth grade classes.

On Saturday, some of those veterans showed youngsters and others how to respectfully dispose of their county’s colors when they are no longer fit to be flown.

As Brownie and Cadet Girl Scouts watched, an honor guard fired a series of rifle volleys, a veteran played “Taps” on a bugle and then a container of old and faded flags was set ablaze.

The girls had earlier led those present in the Pledge of Allegiance.

The ceremony took place at Madison County Memorial Gardens.

When a flag is ready to be retired, said Craig Pyles of the Marine Corps League, it is to be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. That is the manner prescribed in a 1942 federal statute, he said.

In addition to the American flag in the cemetery’s veterans memorial section, the five flags of each branch of the U.S. Armed Services flapped in a brisk breeze that also fanned the flames of the burning flags.

When all of the flags were destroyed, their ashes were to be buried in U.S. Army flag, said Paul Mazurek, commander of Richmond’s Veterans of Foreign Wars post. Next year, the ashes will be buried in front of another service branch's flag.

Members of the Madison County Fire Department, which brought a tank truck and pumper to the event, stood by to ensure safety.

After the ceremony, each scout who participated was presented a flag ceremony patch.

The veterans encourage local residents to deposit old American flags in a former mailbox receptacle behind the Richmond Parks and Recreation Center, 321 N. Second St., where local veterans groups meet.

The committee plans to return to the cemetery for another ceremony June 14, Flag Day, Mazurek said.