WILMINGTON — On June 14, 1777, the Second Continental Congress passed a “Flag Resolution” which stated: “Resolved That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”
Accordingly, the 14th day of June each year has been designated as “Flag Day” and is celebrated with various ceremonies and services.
Most all veterans organizations hold special programs and ceremonies to celebrate our national banner and remember the price their comrades paid to keep it flying free. The Veterans of Foreign Wars and the American Legion have each adopted resolutions that also designate this day as the appropriate time for the retirement of unserviceable American flags that have “reached their present state in a proper service of tribute, memory and love.”
James H. Smithson Post 6710, Veterans of Foreign Wars, holds a solemn, public ceremony at its Post Home each Flag Day. In addition to the Post members and the Post 6710 Auxiliary — as the American flag represents all Americans — guests are invited to participate as well.
Post Commander Richard James opened the program by requesting officers of the post inspect a few representative flags for serviceability. When they were determined to be unserviceable, Commander James continued the service by reading, in part: “A Flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gauze, or a beautiful banner of finest silk. Its intrinsic value may be trifling or great; but its real value is beyond price, for it is a precious symbol of all that we and our comrades have worked for, lived for, and died for. A free Nation of free men, true to the faith of the past, devoted to the ideals and practice of Justice, Freedom and Democracy …”
Chaplain Paul Butler offered prayer, and James presented the first flag to the post’s oldest member, Wendel Padgett, 92, who ceremoniously “… rendered it to the purging flames.”
Auxiliary 1st Vice President Judy Rich received the next flag for disposal. Each person present then respectfully retrieved a flag and submitted it to the fire until all flags had been properly retired.
The Post maintains a “Flag Drop Off” box in front the Post Home at 1130 N. Lincoln St., Wilmington, for anyone who wants to leave unserviceable flags for proper retirement.
Should any group or organization wish to learn more about the American flag’s history, display, disposal, etc., please call the post at 937-383-3432 after 4 p.m. Monday-Friday.