1,000 flags honorably retired at Great Lakes National Cememery

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HOLLY TOWNSHIP (WJRT) - (06/14/17) - One thousand American flags were retired Wednesday at a ceremony at the Great Lakes National Cemetery. Cemetery officials and veterans decided it would be a good day to do it because it's Flag Day.

In 1777, the American flag was adopted by an act of the Continental Congress.

What should be done if a flag becomes worn and tattered? One way is to burn it.

Veterans organizations and the Great Lakes National Cemetery have been collecting retired flags and they were burned in a pit built by Boy Scouts. It's the proper way to treat a flag that has spent hours in the wind and sun.

"We want to show respect for the hours that the flag has flown and when they become tattered and so forth, they need to be retired," said Don Lada, of the Great Lakes National Cemetery advisory council.

Members of the Patriot Guard Riders and veterans organizations oversaw the ceremony. Many of the flags came from area cemeteries after standing at the headstones of veterans.

"The flag means a lot to me. The flag is our country. The flag is the thing that we fought for. The flag is the thing that represents what we are," said Art Fischmann, a World War II veteran.

"I felt coming here was very important.," said Marty Myers, a World War II veteran.

Burning the flag in a solemn ceremony is a tradition.

"It's an honorable way of disposing of the American flags," said Bill Wentz, who serves on the Great Lakes National Cemetery advisory board.

The retirement ceremony may be repeated this time next year.

"This our first annual one and we hope to make it an annual event," Wentz said.

If you have a flag that needs to be retired, many veterans organizations will collect them for you and dispose of them in ceremonies like the one on Flag Day.

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