Flag owners hoping to give their weathered stars and stripes a proper retirement can bring their flags to a deposit box hosted by the local Knights of Columbus at the annual Kitsap Veterans Day Event on Saturday.
"To properly honor our flag, it should be retired in a proper ceremony," said John E. McGannon, a retired 24-year Navy veteran and a Knights of Columbus member. "It's an American tradition to properly retire the flag by incineration."
Flags should be displayed, then folded into a triangle, "carefully placed in the flame" and "solemnly incinerated," McGannon said.
From there, what remains of the flag will also be treated with respect.
"The grommets from the flags are normally buried," McGannon said. "Nothing from them is actually thrown in the garbage. (The flag) gets a full-on ceremony."
Visitors can bring their weathered flags to the drop-off box, which will be a blue footlocker with a sign that says "American flag retirement" hanging above it. The footlocker will most likely be set up at the very front of the pavilion where you walk in, as it has been in previous years, McGannon said.
The drop-off will accept any kind of flag, such as the state flag or a Seahawks flag, which will be retired "in the same kind of circumstances," McGannon said.
McGannon said it's important to dispose of any flag of any kind, not just the American flag, in the proper method based off what material it is made out of.
Plastic flags can't be burned, McGannon said, because they would give off dangerous toxic fumes. Polyester flags also have to handed differently.
The service to collect and retire the flags will be free to the public.
The flags will be stored in a secure location until June, when the Knights of Columbus will hold a flag retirement ceremony to coincide with Flag Day.
The weathered flag deposit box will join more than 20 other booths with military-related displays, including historical uniforms and vehicles, at the annual Kitsap Veterans Day Event on Saturday. Doors open to the Kitsap Sun Pavilion at the Kitsap County Fairgrounds at 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Admission is free.
Naval Base Kitsap commanding officer Capt. Alan Schrader and Bremerton Navy League Ambassador Guy Stitt will host a ceremony from 10:20 to 11:45 a.m. Ret. U.S. Army Col. William “Bill” Reeder, a Vietnam War prisoner of war, will be this year's keynote speaker along with a performance by the Bremerton High School wind ensemble band.
Event coordinator Sandra Smith estimated more than 1,800 people will attend this year's celebration, and she advised spectators "arrive early so that you can find a place to sit," in a press release.
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