Veterans will burn old, worn flags in ceremony

American Legion members will return to Brookeville for event on Pear Harbor Day

Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2006

As Americans reflect on Pearl Harbor Day on Thursday, members of American Legion Norman Price Post 68 will offer a way to retire tattered, worn American flags with honor and dignity.

Members of the organization, founded in Sandy Spring in 1919, will gather on the grounds of the Brookeville Academy at noon for a brief flag-burning ceremony.

‘‘You have to get rid of the old flags, and you don’t throw them in the trash,” Sergeant-at-Arms David Yinger said. ‘‘Every year on Pearl Harbor Day, we have a little ceremony and then burn them. That’s the honorable way.”

Yinger, 80, served in the U.S. Army during World War II. He has been a member of the American Legion for 53 years, and said the organization has been conducting the flag ceremony for as long as he can remember.

‘‘We used to do it at the academy because the American Legion maintained the building until the town purchased it from St. John’s Church in Olney,” he said. ‘‘Lately, we’ve been doing it at my house. But this year, Brookeville has invited us back there to hold our flag-burning ceremony.”

Brookeville Commission President Richard Allan said the town is happy to be a part of the ceremony.

‘‘We understood that they were going to have the flag-burning, so we thought it was a good idea to invite them to hold it at the academy as they have in the past,” he said. ‘‘It’s important to welcome them back for this important ceremony held on Pearl Harbor Day.”

Allan said Brookeville has displayed American flags throughout the historic town for the past several years.

‘‘They obviously wear out over time, and we didn’t have a good way to dispose of them, so this makes sense,” he said.

Yinger said that over the years American Legion officials have burned hundreds of flags.

‘‘One man from the Gaithersburg American Legion used to bring us trash bags full of them, but he died, and no one has taken over for him,” he said. ‘‘Now, I’d say we burn about 50 each year.”

Yinger and Allan invited residents of the community to take their worn flags to the ceremony to be burned. For those unable to attend, a box will be available at the Brookeville Academy to collect flags before the ceremony.

According to the Web site, when a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.

Yinger said the short ceremony will consist of a few words read from the American Legion magazine, and then the flags will be burned in a barrel.

‘‘We’re a bunch of guys that are kind of like an honor guard,” he said. ‘‘We just want to keep peace, and no one is going to stomp on flags around us.”