BONITA SPRINGS — An estimated 1,000 flags were collected over the past year at the American Legion John F. Murphy Post 303 and local churches, such as First United Methodist, in Bonita Springs. The flags are collected every year for a ceremonial disposal once they are deemed unsuitable for display. The collected flags were burned properly in a flag disposal ceremony on Flag Day, Tuesday, June 14.
For safety precautions, the Bonita Springs Fire Department was present for the burning of the flags. “It’s always better to be safe than sorry,” said Lieutenant Dave Brewer. “One little ash can spark off anything.”
Veterans from World War II, Vietnam and Korea were represented. The veterans gathered to participate in the ceremony, as well as Boy Scouts from Troop 109 and Girl Scouts from Troop 348. Pete Wilton, a WWII Army and Air Force veteran, contributed to the flag burning and described it as a “gratifying” experience.
Rebecca Archey, a recent Bonita Springs Middle School graduate sang the National Anthem. Commander Adam Prentki III greeted the attendees.
“Let us proudly look to our banner of freedom,” said Prentki. The beat of drums set off the marching line of scouts and vets to toss the flags into the fire as a prayer was said. Scout master, Joel Morrison, of Troop 109 helped gather flags to hand to the line of scouts and veterans.
Prentki stated that the flag stands for dignity and freedom and “it represents our country’s courage and strength.” A trumpet then began to play during a salute as the flames started to engulf the growing pile of damaged flags.
Singer Jeff Bradford performed “God Bless the USA” as the flags were burned. There was a brief reading on the history of the U.S. flag, and other event attendees were asked to join in the line of flag disposal.