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Legion retired nearly 300 flags at special ceremony

John Doll and John Werner stand guard while fellow members of the American Legion dispose of unserviceable American flags at a ceremony last Wednesday, May 15, at St. Henry’s Area School. Joe Bowen/FOCUS

The Dent Haimerl American Legion Post 148 disposed of hundreds of unserviceable flags in a ceremony behind St. Henry’s Area School on May 15.

The ceremony, which followed a series of guidelines provided by the Legion, was assisted by 95 students from St. Henry’s and 65 students from St. Paul’s Lutheran School.

Students stood in line and handed flags to the Legionnaires, who then added the flags to the fire from a safe distance.

“The Legion is eager to work with kids,” said Assistant Commander Garry Menz as he supervised the burning. “We want to make kids aware of the flag and proper disposal of the flag.”

Menz explained that the Legion has drop boxes throughout the area, usually at Legion and VFW posts, where “a lot” of flags are collected. This prompts the Legion to have a burning twice a year or so.

Earl Rydell, a member of the Legion, estimated that 250-300 flags were burned in total at this latest ceremony, including a handful of POW/MIA flags.

“I lost count after 100,” said Dottie Wacker of the Legion Auxiliary.

The flags are often given to the Legion because they are too tattered, faded, or torn to be fit for flying. Some flags are outdated – having only 48 stars, for instance – and are therefore retired as well, Menz explained.

Additional Legion members who participated in the ceremony were Jim Stoderl and Erv Wegscheid on flag duty, John Doll and John Werner on rifle duty, and Al Fresonke on bugle duty.  Harold Locken, Dorvin Wendt, and Dale Brasil were responsible for the flag disposal itself.