Retiring of the flags

In the memory of the lives lost on 9/11 and the first responders of the attacks, American Legion Post 39 held a Flag Retirement ceremony at Abilene Rodeo Stadium. 

According to the American Legion’s Unserviceable Flags Ceremony, the proper and ethical way to dispose of an unserviceable American Flag includes burning it.

American Legion Post 39, led by Post Commander Brian Ross, held their first Unserviceable Flag Ceremony in memory of the lives lost on 9/11. 

At 4 p.m. on Saturday, the Post retired 20 American flags to honor the 20 years since the 9/11 attacks. 

“It is commemorating, the worst terrorist attack on American soil,” Ross said. “This is the way we’re doing it.”

People donated the flags to Post 39 through their flag retirement boxes located across from Joe Snuffy’s and Ross’ home. 

“We are in the process of building an even better (box) that will be put somewhere in Abilene,” Ross said. 

Ross and other American Legion members will also assist locations with unserviceable flags. 

“If we drive by a place and we see an unserviceable flag, we’ll go out there and ask them ‘Hey, can we take that flag?’ and a lot of times we’ll replace it,” Ross said. 

“We’ve done that with several places, especially retirement homes, businesses or veterans’ homes.”

Ross broke down the correction process to retiring unserviceable flags and the rules American Legion sets for these rites. 

“First of all, it’s inspected,” Ross said. 

“It can because it’s torn, got holes put in it, or just faded. It’s spent its time and it’s proudly waved in the wind for however long. Once it’s inspected, we soak them in kerosene, so they burn quickly, and hang them over a pole to burn them. They are now no longer the flag of our nation. They are now officially retired.”

According to The American Legion website, the approved method of retiring an American flag is by burning the flag after it’s been inspected by three people. 

During the ceremony, Ross was assisted by other members of Post 39 including Adjutant Megan Armstrong, 1st Vice Christopher Armstrong, Chaplain Robert Glover and Auxiliary Bugler Abigale Armstrong. 

In accordance with the American Legion’s ceremony rules, Commander Ross gave this statement before Chaplain’s prayers that he wished to share with readers. 

“Let these faded flags of our country be retired and destroyed with respectful and honorable rites and their places be taken by bright new flags of the same size and kind.”

Commander Ross spent 22 years serving in the Army and joined Post 39 after attending Symphony at Eisenhower Park. 

Ross, who spent his life devoted to the flag, wanted to remind people of the meaning behind the cloth. 

“When you go back to when the Star Spangled Banner was written, that’s what Francis Scott Key was watching all night long. Every time the flag would almost go down, they put it back up...The flag is always in front and what everyone rallied to during battle. They were very very proud of it that is what this country is all about, making our history, our nation, and the flag represents that to us.”


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