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Veterans retire American flags

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Photo submitted VFW members, American Legion members, VFW Auxiliary members, scouts of all ages, their leaders and parents with the nearly 100 flags "in such condition that they are no longer a fitting emblem for display" and are preparing to retire.

On Saturday, Sept. 30, members of Lee Marts Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post #3571 and Harry A. White American Legion Post #65, assisted by the VFW's Auxiliary, honorably retired 94 U.S. flags at Fort Uncompahgre. VFW Post #3571 commander Louis "Corky" Ware directed the explanation of the flag retirement process to the invited guests -- nearly 60 Boy and Girl Scouts, their leaders, and their parents from as far away as Grand Junction.

This somber retirement is not a public ceremony, but a dignified and final honor for the symbol of the United States of America. VFW Post #3571 uses its annual flag retirement ceremony to help teach area Scouts the basics of the United States Flag Code, including the final burning and interment of U.S. flags that are no longer suitable for service. This retirement procedure has been used by the U. S. military for over 200 years. The Flag Code, under title 4.13 of the United States 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."

After a prayer, recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and demonstration of the proper method of folding a United States flag, the Scouts then assisted the veterans in the final retirement of the colors of their nation. All present had time to reflect on the status and honor due the living symbol of the United States of America as the flags were "laid to rest" accompanied by the playing of "Taps," the traditional end of a military funeral ceremony.

The members of VFW Post #3571 and its Auxiliary wish to thank the Scouts, their parents and leaders for their participation and express their gratitude to Chris Miller, executive director of the Interpretive Association of Western Colorado, for allowing the use of Fort Uncompahgre for this hallowed event. They would also like to thank the City of Delta for allowing the hallowed ashes of the flags to be preserved on the grounds of the fort.

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