Legion to retire old flags at annual Flag Day ceremony
American Legion Post 123 will host a ceremony this weekend in recognition of Flag Day and the community is invited to attend, as well as bring any American flags that need to be retired.
In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson officially established June 14 as Flag Day to commemorate the adoption of the U.S. flag on June 14, 1777, by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. On June 14, the island organization will hold its annual ceremony starting at 6 p.m. at the back of the Legion.
“Flag Day celebrates America’s symbol of unity and stands for our country’s devotion to freedom, to the rule of all, and to the equal rights for all,” Commander Timothy Moore, who is retired from the U.S. Air Force, said. “We honor flags that have lived a long honorable life with the retirement ceremony.”
He explained that people can drop off their old flags at the Legion throughout the year.
“They’re going to be tattered, they’re going to be faded, they’re going to be worn – they need to be fittingly destroyed,” Moore said. “So the ceremony marks their completion of service.”
It will open with a prayer, followed by information on the American flag and Flag Day.
“We talk about the U.S. flag,” he said. “Each flag has a life duty that it does in tribute to the country and veterans and our way of life.”
Under the supervision of staff from the Sanibel Fire and Rescue District, the flags to be destroyed are then burned in a fire pit. The ceremonial burning of the flags is followed by the “funeral salute.”
“There was a huge pile last year,” Moore said.
He estimated that a couple dozens flags – of all sizes and materials – are burned each year.
“It promises to be a memorable occasion,” Moore said.
Anyone who has a flag ready for retirement can bring it to the ceremony.
In light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Legion will exercise the 6-foot social distancing guidelines recommended. Attendees are welcome to wear protective masks if they would like.
“The only change that we have is it will be spread out,” he said.
Following the ceremony, attendees are invited to stick around as the Legion reopened on June 5. It is operating at the permitted 50 percent capacity, and it is following the social distancing guidelines.
“We will have sanitization (options) as you come in,” Moore said of what is set up.
Constant cleaning and sanitizing is also taking place by staffers.
He noted that there was a change to the Legion’s smoking policy during the closure. Smoking is no longer allowed inside of the main building, but it is still permitted in Timmy’s Nook at the back.
Veterans and their families are welcome to stop by any time.
“We’re always looking for new members,” Moore said. “Our mission is to emphasize veterans, their families and organizations that support veterans – we appreciate any support from the public.”
“The Legion is a great place to visit, drop in, say hello and have a bite to eat,” he added.
For more information about the Flag Day ceremony, call the Legion at 239-472-9979 or contact Commander Timothy Moore at 941-626-2943 or member Randy Carson at 239-699-8739.
American Legion Post 123 is at 4929 Sanibel-Captiva Road, Sanibel.