Worn-out flags honorably disposed
By Brandon Klein
American flags that have served their time as a beacon of hope, freedom and home were honorably disposed of Saturday night by the Sons of The American Legion Mahoning Valley Squadron 15.
Burning is the proper and acceptable way to dispose of flags that are torn, frayed and faded, said Jeff Vrabel Sr., Squadron 15 commander.
“The respectful way is by burning,” he said.
The organization sponsored its 14th annual Flag Disposal Ceremony at the American Legion Mahoning Valley Post 15, 35 Cortland St.
Throughout the year, more than 1,000 worn-out flags were dropped off, including ones that had 48 stars, Vrabel said. The stars represent the nation’s states.
About 25 to 30 flags were dropped off Saturday evening, he added.
After burning the flags, the ashes are buried in the ground, said John Kopcsos, a member of the American Legion.
“It’s the same thing as burying a person,” he said.
During the ceremony, Vrabel explained the importance of the flag going back to its roots in the American Revolutionary War. The sound of a three-gun salute followed by the playing of taps concluded the ceremony segment. Attendants then started burning the flags.
The ceremony was in conjunction with the annual “Celebrate Poland” event to attract more people, Vrabel said.
About 20 people attended Saturday night’s ceremony, but he said in the past they’ve had 200 attend depending on weather conditions.
The American Legion Mahoning Valley Post 15 has 200 members. The Sons of The American Legion Mahoning Valley Squadron 15 is a branch of the organization for male descendants of war veterans. Vrabel’s father, for example, served in the Korean War.
Kopcsos said he’s attended the ceremony every year since its inception. He served in the Navy on an aircraft carrier from 1969 to 1972 during the Vietnam War.
“I’m proud of my flag,” he said.