Photos by David Gordon
When an American flag becomes worn, faded or torn, the rule is, it must be burned.
The flag cannot be tossed in the garbage, cut into rags or otherwise disposed of in ways that would be considered disrespectful. It must be burned, and preferably with an appropriate ceremony.
On Tuesday, Sept. 9, Boy Scout Troop 135 of Glasco held a flag-burning ceremony, which consists of more than simply placing flags in a fire.
“We have 17 boys from the troop,” said Troop 135 leader Liz Melick. “They were very conscientious about the flags in Saugerties. Most of the flags are collected from cemeteries or from organizations, but individuals can bring flags as well.”
The ceremony included the cutting of several flags into sections. As each portion was burned, troop member Jacob Perez recited a text entitled “I Am Your Flag.” The piece opens, “I am your flag. I was born June 14, 1777. I am more than cloth shaped into a design.” The speech goes on to express the flag’s meanings: the refuge of oppressed people, the sentinel of freedom, the emblem of our nation and the inspiration for which patriots gave their lives.
The red stripes “symbolize the blood spilled in the defense of the glorious nation.” The white stripes “signify the burning tears shed by Americans who lost their sons.” The blue field with white stars symbolize “God in heaven under which we fly; my stars clustered together unify 50 states as one for God and country.”
The ceremony, a joint endeavor of the American Legion and the scouts, drew Legion representatives from around the county. Among them were Ira Weiner, the American Legion Ulster County Commander and Harold Rosenkranse, the Legion’s County Vice Commander and Boy Scout liaison.
The local post, Lamouree-Hackett Post 72, was represented by Commander Alan Greczynski, Bart Van Demask, Ben Carrus, Second Vice Commander Bob Chappelle, Post Adjutant Bob Quinn, Cliff Snyder, medical officer Kevin Burgher and Joseph Konopka Jr.
“They did a good job,” Rosenkranse said, following the ceremony. However, he noted that the correct bugle call is “Blowing to the Colors” rather than “Taps,” which is what was played. Rosenkranse attends between 30 and 60 such ceremonies in a year.
Troop leader Liz Melick said about 50 flags were burned, but another bag full of flags collected from local cemeteries remain to be burned at a later ceremony. There was simply not enough time to burn them all, she said.