Unserviceable Flag Retirement

By Harold Rodenberger


As a community service, our VFW Post accepts worn and unserviceable flags for proper retirement. Frequently people drop by the office and hand us flags that are no longer fit to fly and ask us to retire them. I am always impressed with their patriotism, sincerely and concern for the flag of our country.


Two or three years ago, a man called and wanted to know if he could drop off a flag he had found in a dumpster. I assured him we would accept it and he later brought it by the hall. It turned out to be a coffin flag. He retrieved it from the dump, had it dry cleaned and brought it by folded on a hanger. When asked if I could reimburse him for the cleaning cost he refused saying that he only thought it his duty to rescue the flag and find a way to return it to service.


In years past we have had retirement ceremonies in our parking lot where we properly disposed of the flags by burning. Last year we had complaints from the residents of the condos and apartments on the hill behind us so we stopped burning flags in our parking lot.


Over the past eighteen months we have accumulated over three hundred flags waiting for proper disposal. On Wednesday, October 16, 2019, we loaded up seven boxes of flags and took them north to my brother’s farm near Blaine, WA, for burial.


For a gravesite, we selected a grassy knoll overlooking green pastures with woods on the north and a view east toward Mt Baker.


flag burial
At the gravesite we dug a deep trench, said a few words and began placing the boxes of flags.


flag burial
After the boxes had been carefully placed in the bottom of the grave, we said a few words in honor of their service, rendered a final salute and backfilled the grave. Mission accomplished, we returned to Seattle.