American Legion Post 64

American Legion Post 64 Commander Ed Mangan prepares to dispose of worn-out flags in a reverential ceremony.

They served it and now they are honoring it.

That’s why members of Ahwatukee’s only veterans service organization holds its annual flag retirement ceremony.

American Legion Post 64 will retire unserviceable American flags at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 14, at Ahwatukee Recreation Center, 5001 E. Cheyenne Drive, as members observe Flag Day.

Post spokesman John Boyer said the ceremony is designed to remind people “about what the flag truly means.”

“This is a very moving ceremony which demonstrates the dignity of properly retiring our flags,” said Boyer, adding that Legionnaires will be “conducting an approved method of retiring unserviceable U.S. flags.”

The program – free and open to the public – includes an introduction by post Commander Ed Mangan, a prayer and a solemn burning of a few flags. People also are welcome to bring worn-out flags to the ceremony for disposal. The ones that are not burned are sent to Luke Air Force Base for further disposal.

Respectful flag burning has served as a tradition since the 1940s and continues to be an honorable and proper method of retirement.

The disposal ceremony was introduced by the American Legion at its 19th national convention in 1937 and has been a part of that organization ever since.

The Legion adopted it from the 1923 Flag Code passed by Congress.

The ceremony includes these words:

“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 and 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.”

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