LIHUE — Flag Day is America’s Day, said Robin Sanchez, commander of the American Legion, Kapaa Post 54.
“On Flag Day, we not only honor the flag, but the freedom it symbolizes,” Sanchez said Tuesday to a group of about two dozen Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and representatives of the different veterans group. “The flag, the rallying standard in events such as the 9-11 disaster, is a symbol of America.”
The United States Flag Code prescribes the proper retirement for flags that have lived out their useful life. These are flags that are worn, torn, faded, or badly soiled.
“The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning,” the Flag Code states.
The American Legion, Kapaa Post 54 took the lead in retiring the island’s flags during a ceremony that is part of the island’s Flag Day observance.
On Kauai, the ceremony usually takes place on the Kamehameha Day observance because the day is a state and county holiday and the incineration of flags has minimal impact on people working in nearby offices. Flag Day is Friday.
“It is illegal to just dump the flag in the trash once it’s lived out its life,” said Jim Jung, American Legion chaplain. “There is a used flag drop box outside the Kauai Veterans Center where people can deposit their old flags. People such as the caretakers of the Kauai Veterans Cemetery can collect the weathered flags and turn them in, or they can call and someone will go to pick them up.”
The flags heading for retirement are held until Flag Day when the retirement ceremony takes place.
Johnette Chun, Kauai Veterans Council adjutant, suggested that a Boy Scout could construct a burn pit as an Eagle Scout project because the current system is becoming outdated.
“Metal drums are getting harder and harder to find,” Chun said. “Almost everything is coming in plastic. A burn pit would be a more permanent solution, and we could design it to further minimize the smoke and fumes.”