Q: I have a tattered U.S. flag. Where and how can I take it to be destroyed properly?
— Denzil Sequeira, Bonita Springs
A: The question is timely because this week — National Flag Week — is the best time of the year to honor Old Glory.
"The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning," according to the "Respect the Flag" section of the U.S. Code's patriotic customs.
Flag Day, which will be commemorated Thursday, provides a couple of local opportunities for citizens to respectfully retire faded or torn American flags.
The Collier County Veterans' Council and Collier County Freedom Memorial Task Force are hosting a ceremony from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday in front of the Freedom Memorial in Freedom Park, located off Golden Gate Parkway near Goodlette-Frank Road, in Naples. This is the perfect venue for this patriotic event because the future centerpiece of the Freedom Memorial will be a 13-foot-by-40-foot American flag monument clad in red, white and blue granite.
"We will be accepting worn and faded American flags from local citizens who would like to properly and honorably retire them in accordance with accepted U.S. flag custom and protocol," said Greg Speers of the Freedom Memorial Task Force.
Veterans, Gulf Coast Retired Firefighters and local scout troops will participate, accepting flags and assisting with proper flag handling, including folding and incineration. The flags will be burned in a large steel drum during the ongoing ceremony, Speers said.
Another flag retirement ceremony is planned for 6 p.m. Thursday in Bonita Springs. The American Legion will host the Flag Day event at John F. Murphy American Legion Post No. 303, 27678 Imperial Shores Blvd., just north of Bonita Beach Road. Flags can be dropped off before Thursday in a special box inside the door at the local American Legion post or brought to the ceremony.
The local post collects old flags all year round, and other civic groups such as Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and the Daughters of the American Revolution contribute flags its members or organizations have collected.
"The flags that the DAR members bring are usually flags that they or their friends and neighbors have that have gotten too worn to fly," said Mary Musto, the commemorative events chairwoman for the Barefoot Beach Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Other days when local groups have sponsored flag retirement ceremonies have included the Fourth of July, Veterans Day, Memorial Day and 9/11. Unserviceable flags may be dropped off at American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, area fire stations, as well as other locations.
For more information about the Stars and Stripes, go to www.usflag.org/uscode36.html173
Liberty Youth Ranch
Q: While driving north on Interstate 75, between mile markers 119 and 120 there are two large houses off to the right, built right next to each other. They are mirror images of each other. A large lake is in front of both homes. Just wondering about the story behind this construction. Same family? More houses to be developed? Hope you can solve my curiosity. Thanks.
— Lee Davis, Naples
Q: Could you provide the story about the ranch east of I-75 at mile marker 119-120? Thank you.
— Terri Johnson, Naples
A: The twin Old Florida-style houses on the large lake on the east side of the interstate in Bonita Springs are the separate girls' and boys' homes at Liberty Youth Ranch, which provides a permanent, safe home for abused, abandoned, neglected and orphaned children.
"It's primarily a home for them," said Liberty Youth Ranch founder and CEO Alan Dimmitt, who established the ranch in 2003 to pay forward the love and encouragement he received growing up in a children's home in Texas.
The local program, a Christian ministry completely supported by private community donations and many volunteers, assists children age 4 to 17 who are experiencing a family crisis or enduring an unfortunate home environment and need an alternative place to live. The two homes on the 156-acre ranch currently serve 12 to 16 children from Collier, Lee, Glades, Charlotte and Hendry counties, Dimmitt said.
"There potentially could be six homes around the 64-acre lake," he said.
Only the first phase of the ranch is complete, Dimmitt said, noting that two more homes may be added in each of two additional phases. The next building is expected to be a therapeutic equestrian center for their horses, he said.
In 2005, Bonita City Council approved a plan for 15 homes to be built on the site.
Liberty Youth Ranch, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, also relies on funding from an upscale shop it opened in 2006 at 27870 Old 41 Road in Bonita. The shop, which features furniture and home accessories, is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
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"In the Know" is published Mondays and Wednesdays in the Naples Daily News. Find a complete archive of "In the Know" columns at naplesnews.com/intheknow.