Going Up In Flames

American Legion District 2 Commander Doug Johnson lowers an American flag into a fire as part of the group’s regular flag retirement ceremony in Douglas on Sept. 29.

Jessica York, auxiliary district 2 president of the American Legion, pulled out her cellphone to call 311 to let the non-emergency dispatcher know that members of the American Legion in Douglas would be conducting a controlled burn.

They would be burning American, Wyoming and any other flags deemed “unserviceable.”

Then Jessica and nearly a dozen other members assembled in a half circle outside the American Legion Post 8 headquarters on 6th Street, to recite the commands for disposal of the flags from the Squadron Handbook of the Sons of the American Legion.

The ceremony was led by Donald York, American Legion Past Commander and Chaplain, Samuel Mares Post 8.

Members of the American Legion hold these flag retirement ceremonies roughly once every three months. There is a red, white and blue colored drop box outside the building for people to donate flags for retirement.

According to the American Legion code, “when a flag has served its useful purpose, it should be destroyed, preferably by burning.”

The ceremonies are held “as a show of respect,” American Legion Auxiliary Samuel Mares Unit 8 President Tione Willox said.

American flags should be lowered into the flames stripes first, like the feet of a fallen soldier, followed by the stars and blue shield, which is considered the head, Jessica York said.

As the sun was setting on Sept. 29, members burned close to 100 flags.

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