In honor of Flag Day, the large American flag that fans out high above traffic at Clifton Park Center is scheduled to be formally retired this afternoon by members of the U.S. Army recruiting station located in the mall.
Members of local veterans’ organizations say they hope Flag Day serves as a reminder to all to inspect their own flags flying on porches or poles to ensure they’re displaying them properly and respectfully.
“There are people who forget all about the flag on their lawn, and it becomes worn out by sun and rain,” said Lee Buck, a Vietnam War veteran and member of the Mohawk Post American Legion in Halfmoon. “Around here, you really need to replace the flag at least every year.”
Buck said he and other American Legion members keep an eye out for tattered, frayed flags displayed outside residences in Clifton Park and Halfmoon, and have knocked on doors to remind homeowners it’s time for a replacement.
“People for the most part are very nice and comply,” Buck said.
Buck also said seeing flags improperly disposed of is a disappointment to him.
“You see flags tossed in the trash, and I can’t see how anyone can do that and feel good about themselves,” Buck said.
What’s the proper way to dispose of a flag?
The U.S. Flag Code states, “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.”
There are ways to prolong the life of a flag. The National Flag Keepers Association recommends people have two flags at their home and rotate them for longer use. Flags can also be dry-cleaned and stitched when frayed.
In 1937, the National Convention of the American Legion approved a ceremony for disposal of unusable flags, recommending a proper burning procedure. However, at that time, most American flags were made of cotton or wool. Today, the vast majority of American flags are made of nylon or other petroleum-based materials.
Burning today’s flags can be dangerous because hazardous gases are produced in the fire, including formaldehydes, ammonia, carbon monoxide, traces of hydrogen cyanide and other dangerous materials.
For these safety reasons, Buck said they encourage people to bring used flags to their American Legion post.
“People are always welcome to bring their older flags to us and we’ll take care of them,” Buck said. “But we only get a handful of them a year so we know most people are doing it themselves.”
Sgt. Theodore Lacey, who will lead the flag retirement at Clifton Park Center today, said military disposal of flags usually involves removing it first.
“We’ll have the new flag formally folded to raise when the old one comes down,” Lacey said. “It’s a short ceremony but there’s a serious nature to it.”
The Clifton Park Center flag is scheduled to be retired today at 4 p.m. by members of the U.S. Army in full uniform, and will be replaced by a new one of the same size.
More from The Daily Gazette: