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To show respect for the flag, treat it properly

While Albert Lea American Legion Cmdr. Jeff Olson served in the military, he carried around a small American flag at all times, he said.

“That’s what I joined the military for,” he said.

“I know, as a veteran, that flag means a lot to veterans,” he said. “We fight for that flag. We fight … for anybody’s rights for that American flag, and that’s a big deal to us.”

But when a flag becomes faded or torn, it has reached the end of its life, Olson said.

He said to respectfully dispose of an American flag, it must be burnt.

While a person or family can burn their flag, Olson said it must be done in a private ceremony so it is not considered a desecration of the flag.

The American Legion hosts its own ceremony to dispose of old flags, which it collects year-round for the once-a-year ceremony near Flag Day. The fire department is present, as is a flag detail, and the flags are put on a rack and lit. After the ceremony, taps is played.

Olson estimated the Legion disposes of between 50 and 75 flags a year this way. American Legion organizations have done so since 1934, when it was agreed at the national convention that the Legion organization would offer this service as a respectful way to dispose of flags.

To care for your American flag during its life, take it in every night unless you have a light trained on it, Olson said. Bring in the flag during storms, and fold it and store it in your home. Keep the flag off the ground.

 

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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