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American Legion holds special flag retirement ceremony in the forest

Posted at 11:42 AM, May 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 11:50:53-04

IDAHO CITY, Idaho — Every year the American Legion collects worn-out American flags that are no longer serviceable and they retire the colors in a special flag burning ceremony.

The U.S. Flag Code states that when old glory can no longer be displayed, it must be disposed of in a respectful manner, preferably by burning the flag.

On an average year, the American Legion Post 113 out of Meridian collects 5,000 flags, but this year they had more than 7,000 that needed to be retired.

"I'm the flag guy. I love my flag," said Matt Wrobel, the Commander of Post 113. "I like to do it to make sure it is done right because if they don't burn completely, we can pick the remains and put them in another ceremony."

Because the Legion had so many flags, they partnered with the Clear Creek Volunteer Fire Department.

Normally the Legion holds its annual flag retirement ceremony at the Idaho Veteran's Garden in Caldwell.

However, the Clear Creek Volunteer Fire Department had a big brush pile they needed to burn, so they helped out the Legion with their ceremony.

"We can show our country some honor even in a bad situation like we are going through these days," said Wrobel. "We got to keep our distance, but it doesn't mean we can't get things done."

Last year the American Legion named Chief Sam Bonovich of the Clear Creek Volunteer Fire Department as their firefighter of the year in Idaho.

"They didn't have a good place to do it, and we had the best place you could do it," said Chief Bonovich. "To serve all these distinguished people and help them out makes it pretty special."

So the Legion retired the flags by burning them under the watchful eye of the fire department who monitored the ashes for four-plus hours to make sure they didn't spark a wildfire.

The Legion also saved the grommets from the flags for another special occasion.

They've been commissioned by the United States Navy to create two brass bells for the USS Idaho submarine, Wrobel made one of these brass bells to help Idaho commemorate 100 years as a state.