Drawing a small but receptive crowd to its east parking lot on Friday evening, the Ahwatukee Recreation Center hosted a flag retirement ceremony that reminded attendees about what the flag truly means.
In honor of Flag Day, a sampling of 12 flags deemed unfit for use were respectfully burned by members of American Legion Post 64. The local chapter collected some 400 flags throughout the year from the community.
“As they like to say, it’s more than a flag, it represents our whole nation,” said Roger Munchbach, of the American Legion.
As the sampling of unserviceable, faded or torn flags were put into the fire at the Ahwatukee Recreation Center, the post leaders saluted the flags and a moment of silence was held. While the red, white and blue fabric drew large flames overhead, representing bloodshed, purity, courage and the nation, some residents said the special ceremony brought back memories of their own service in the military, or the service of those they loved.
After the Ahwatukee community saw the recent deaths of young veterans, one son of an Ahwatukee couple who died in combat this month and another who took his own life last week, the ceremony was especially fitting to honor those who have served.
“It’s a nice feeling to be here in the United States and to have ceremonies like this in our community,” said Ann Schminke, who travelled around the world with her late husband, a member of the U.S. Air Force.
The remaining flags collected by the American Legion from around the Valley are then sent to Luke Air Force Base for further disposal.
“It’s a respect for the flag,” said Ahwatukee resident Jerry Allston, who served in the U.S. Navy. “It’s nice to have the ability to get rid of them in a proper fashion.”
As the ceremony ended on the already warm evening at the recreation center, American Legion member Rod Green finished burning the rest of the flag sampling, one flag in particular wouldn’t take to the flames.
“The flags go hard, they don’t want to go,” he chuckled.
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