Veterans open American flag retirement ceremony to entire Warwick community

Warwick. Honored during the Sept. 8 ceremony will be the respectful retirement of old, faded and frayed U.S. flags, the symbol of American freedom.

| 09 Aug 2021 | 05:25

Local military veterans are inviting the community to a special retirement party.

Veterans from World War II, the Korean War, the Viet Nam era and more resent conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan will participate in the Sept. 8 event.

Honored during the ceremony will be the respectful retirement of old, faded and frayed U.S. flags, the symbol of American freedom.

‘To honor Old Glory’

“Other than military personnel, few in our community have seen a flag retirement ceremony,” said Stan Martin, commander of Nicholas P. Lesando Jr., American Legion Post 214 in Warwick. “This is a great opportunity for families, scouts and other townspeople to share a learning experience and honor Old Glory.

The 30-minute free event will begin at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 8, behind the American Legion Building, 71 Forester Ave., next to the entrance to Warwick’s Veterans Memorial Park.

Martin will serve as master of ceremonies. He’ll be assisted by legionnaires from Post 214 and members of Warwick Post 4662 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and their commander Jose Morales. Honor guards will be provided by both veterans’ organizations.

‘Worn out in worthy service’

Legion chaplain Joe Hilderbrandt’s invocation will include these words:

“We commit these flags, worn out in worthy service, to a clean and purging flame as they yield their substance to the fire.”

An empty chair

Brothers and World War II veterans Don and Warren McFarland will recognize American prisoners of war and those missing with a POW/MIA Empty Chair. The empty chair, displayed at all official American Legion meetings, is a physical symbol of the thousands of Americans still unaccounted for from all the wars and conflicts involving the United States of America.

Then Warwick Rotarian Chris Olert will recite the patriotic and emotional poem: “The Voice of Our American Flag.”

Martin pointed out that the United States Code stipulates “When a U.S. flag is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

Legion First Vice Commander Tom Brennan and Past Legion Commander Jerry Schacher will be joined by VFW Commander Jose Morales and Senior Vice Commander Carmine Garritano in gently placing a dozen retired flags into a burning barrel, while the audience sings “God Bless America.”

After the ceremony, the Warwick Valley Rotary Club will provide refreshments on-site.

An additional 2,000 flags will be honored and retired prior to the October American Legion meeting.

“The larger burning requires more time, labor, safety requirements and involves considerably more smoke,” Martin added.


Persons with faded or torn flags can place them in the flag box in front of the American Legion Building, 71 Forester Ave., Warwick, for proper disposal.