Old Glory’s colors might not run, but they do fade a little in the Florida sun. For this reason, dignified retirement of flags by burning has become a cherished tradition.
Picking up on that tradition after a break of about 10 years, Marco Island’s VFW Post 6370 organized a ceremony which was held Saturday at Veteran’s Memorial Park.
About 30 people, including VFW Post 6370 members and the Marco Strummers Band, participated.
In a brief address before the burning, post commander Dave Gardner said American flags may be made of “flimsy gauze or be a beautiful banner of the finest silk, but the real value is beyond price.
“It is a symbol that we and all our comrades have worked for and lived for and died for,” he said.
Thus, he said, flags are retired and destroyed with respectful and honorable rights, and their places taken by bright new flags.
“Let no grave of a soldier or a sailor dead be unhonored or unmarked,” Gardner said.
He added that anyone could theoretically pay proper respect to a flag by burning it in a back yard.
“However, it is supposed to, and should be a solemn enough occasion for everybody to understand what happens when people put their flags in our mailbox (at City Hall)” Gardner said.
Two people who brought along their own flags for retirement were Jim Chute of Boy Scout Troop 234 (along with scout Bradley Chute), and also WW2 veteran Fred Burnham.
An infantry division soldier who survived the Battle of the Bulge, but who still mourns the loss of 14,000 American comrades in the space of 28 hours, Burnham said occasions like the flag burning ceremony give him flashbacks.
Gardner said he was pleased the VFW Post had conducted the ceremony after a decade lapsing, and that the idea might be to combine the next one with a regular VFW Post 6370 gathering to involve more people in the tradition.