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Our friends who love red will be in their element during the next several days.

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Letty Eileen Cole, 93, died on Oct. 15, 2014, in Ketchikan.
6/14/2013
A final salute

Just as the service people who defended it eventually finish their job, so, too, sometimes the American flag is done, too.

It’s important to keep flags in good shape out of respect for that precious symbol of our freedom. When a veteran dies, the flag is often one of the most meaningful mementoes a family retains in his honor. We lay our veterans to rest with the utmost respect; even now, the ranks of our World War II veterans are down to a few, and many who served in the Vietnam Era are going, too. They fought for our flag, as the symbol of American freedom.

This is the day on which, while honoring all American flags, we bid farewell to those flags that have finished their job.

On Flag Day, today, the American Legion has a flag retirement ceremony at the post at 631 Park St. downtown. Those who have flags that are worn can bring them to the Legion — up until it’s time to prepare for the ceremony, a box for flags will remain at the post’s door — for proper, respectful, disposal. If you don’t have time to drop off your worn out flag, bring it to the ceremony and it will be disposed of correctly.

Legion Commander Deb Davis says in the month the box was out, the Legion has received many flags to be retired. The flag that had been at Bayview Cemetery — replaced by the Legion with a fresh one — will be among those retired in today’s ceremony. It’s a simply ceremony at 11 a.m., before the burning of the first flag. Legion and VFW representatives will remain for a few hours, until all of the flags have been disposed of properly and respectfully.

Every once in a while, someone thinks a flag is finished and leaves it in the box at the Legion for disposal — but it isn’t. Flags can be repaired or washed; sometimes, flags aren’t meant to be outdoors in the elements, but can be fine if cleaned and kept indoors. The Legion’s advice: “When the ends are tattered strings, the grommets have pulled loose, and stitching is missing in many places, then that old veteran is ready for retirement.”

Today, if you have a minute, join those who care for our flags for that simple ceremony at the American Legion post at 11 a.m. A final showing of respect for the symbol under which so many have served so honorably is always an appropriate thing to do on Flag Day.

Then, notice the flags around town and thank those who display it.

Thanks to those who fly our flag, care for it, and then see it safely home.