Dozens of tattered or faded American Flags were given a proper send-off at the Maxwell American Legion Hall last week in front of more than 100 local students.
American Legion Post No. 218 and Colusa Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 2441 members officially retired the unserviceable flags in a ceremony that has been an integral part of American Legion ritual since 1937.
The ceremony was performed for Maxwell elementary and middle school students on April 10, and high school students on April 11 as a way to instill patriatism in youth, and to teach them the proper protocols for handling the American flag, which is revered as a symbol of this nation.
“I thought the ceremony was very amazing in the sense that we still respect America the way it is,” said Bryce Cantrell, 10, a fifth grade student at Maxwell Elementary. “It was very patriotic.”
Each flag needing to be retired was carefully displayed and saluted before being placed into a pit of fire.
“We do it in a very special way,” Maxwell American Legion Commander Ron Azevedo said. “We burn them, but it is respectable. These flags have been flown until they can no longer be flown with respect. They are old, they’re worn, and they’re tattered, and they need to be replaced.”
The Maxwell American Legion collects worn flags throughout the year from individuals, local businesses, and offices. Several of the larger flags had flown above the Maxwell Post Office.
For the first time, the Legion had enough flags to allow for all or most of the elementary school students to participate.
“It was awesome because I got to do it for the very first time,” said Brook Santiago, 11, who had only watched the program in previous years.
Azevedo said it was important for the students to see and participate in the ceremony, so they understand the significance of the American flag and how important it is to respect American ideals. Students also received the American Legion’s pamphlet on flag etiquette.
“We want to get the little kids involved because there is so much negative information out there about the flag right now,” Azevedo said. “We need to change that.”
Madison Pearson and Williams Kuska, both eighth grade students, participated in the ceremony with a patriotic reading. ■