End of life

The Sun-Gazette recently featured an article entitled “Retiring An American Flag” in which a local Boy Scout pack held a flag burning ceremony. Our nation’s Flag Code recommends “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”.

Donations of worn out flags to scouting and veterans organizations are the traditional means of retiring an American flag, but there appears to be another possibility which is slowly gaining acceptance. It began with the recognition that the cremation of a veteran and the worn out emblem he/she served under could be consumed by the same flame, and their ashes co-mingled as a honorable and fitting tribute to both. As if covering a coffin, the worn out flag would cover the remains with the field of stars over the heart.

Mortuaries across the nation have begun to request donations of torn and tattered flags to honor veterans who have requested cremation, and scouting and veterans organizations are becoming aware that some of the flags donated for burning could be dedicated for a veteran’s cremation.

If the concept sounds appealing, consider donating your next worn out American flag to a local mortuary with the stipulation that it be available if requested by a vet, or on behalf of a vet, for cremation. If you belong to an organization which accepts worn out flags for burning, consider making arrangements with local mortuaries when appropriate.

As an old vet myself, I think the time has come to consider the concept. I can’t think of a more dignified way to honor the end of life for vet and flag.

Bill Jameson


Submitted by Virtual Newsroom