Flag farewell

LIHUE — An American flag rendered unusable due to age and weathering is retired, preferably by burning, said Robin Sanchez, commandant of the American Legion, Post 54, Kapaa, Friday at the Kauai Veterans Center.

“We usually retire the American flags on Flag Day, which falls on June 14,” Sanchez said.

Jim Jung, chaplain for American Legion, Post 54, said normally the ritual is done on Saturday because the organization relies on the help of the Boy Scouts representing Troops 83, 133 and 148 for the retiring ceremony, which involves burning the flags in fire barrels.

“But Saturdays are usually game days at the neighboring fields, and we don’t want to smoke out the kids,” Jung said. “Today is a holiday (Kamehameha Day) and the Scouts are able to come out so we decided this was the best time.”

During the symbolic inspection and prayer retiring of the year’s collection of flags, Jung provided education on flags, their symbolism, the meaning of freedom, and the ritual itself.

“This is something I’d like to see take place in the scouting program,” Sanchez said. “Scouts who come to learn and participate need some sort of recognition like a merit badge, or something like that. We should all know about flag education.”

Ayden Quinn, a Boy Scout volunteer, said retiring flags was an awesome experience.

“I learned how the American flag helps a lot of people,” Quinn said. “We need to respect our country and our flag.”

Athena Abadilla, Miss Kauai Veteran, is a graduate from Waimea High School and its JROTC program.

“The guys should have been here,” she said. “They were thinking about doing a flag retiring ceremony out in Waimea. They could have learned a lot.”

Johnette Chun, adjutant for the Kauai Veterans Council, said people who have American flags that need to be retired can bring them to the special collection depository at the entrance to the Kauai Veterans Center, where they will be kept until the next retirement ceremony.

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