By Julie Huss firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — DERRY — It was a banner day Saturday as dozens of American flags were retired and destroyed with dignity.
The Molly Reid Chapter DAR hosted a flag decommissioning and disposal ceremony at the Upper Village Hall in East Derry.
About two dozen people came to the event, many bringing along their unused flags.
Many came to watch and learn.
Piles of tattered, worn American flags already collected were set to be burned, part of the DAR mission to treat old flags with dignity and respect once are no longer in shape to fly.
DAR Regent Julie Pike said old, tattered flags are traditionally destroyed in a symbolic way once they are no longer in use.
“We do this by burning,” she said.
Prior to burning the first flag, Pike and other DAR members cut out the stars in the field of blue and then burned each stripe one by one, naming each of the original 13 colonies and the date they became part of the United States union.
Also helping at the ceremony were members of the Pinkerton Academy JROTC program.
Students demonstrated the proper way to fold a flag, and explained the symbolism of each fold and crease.
Pinkerton JROTC Chief Master Sgt. Leon Hosfelt said having his students take part in the flag disposal was very important to their education.
“This is something we look forward to,” he said.
Hosfelt said the JROTC program teaches many things, including academics in all subjects, but also citizenship and how to forge a strong character.
The students perform the flag folding ceremony every year at Pinkerton during the school’s Memorial Day observance.
In past years, the folded flags have been presented to family members of Pinkerton soldiers who died in military action.
DAR members said about 100 flags were collected leading up to Saturday’s disposal ceremony.
Local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion groups traditionally plan flag disposal ceremonies throughout the year, often around Flag Day in June.