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Respectful disposal of U.S. Flag: Leave nothing unburned

Photo by Christy Porter
Veterans Charles Hayes and Virgil Zeller receive help from Licking and Success fifth and sixth grade students at the VFW’s Dignified Disposal of Unserviceable Flags Ceremony.

By Christy Porter, Managing Editor

 Licking and Success fifth and sixth graders participated with the Veterans and Auxiliary at the VFW Post 6337 Dignified Disposal of Unserviceable Flags Ceremony on September 15.

Due to public health concerns, the ceremony that includes fifth grade students was not held last year; those students, now sixth graders, were invited to participate this year, resulting in a record 133 student helpers. Flag collection for disposal this year resulted in two 20-by 30-foot flags that were flown at the intersection of Hwy. 63 and Hwy. 32, and over 200 smaller flags. Flags are carefully inspected prior to being retired.

Chrissy Medlock and Michelle Meizler, Licking fifth grade teachers, and Kaylon Buckner, Paige Frazier and Serena Hagler, Licking sixth grade teachers, walked with their students to the VFW parking lot. Kimberly Huff, Success fifth grade teacher, and Lonny Lee, sixth, seventh and eighth grade teacher, arrived by bus with their students.

Photos by Christy Porter

Long-time Post Commander Billie Krewson welcomed the students, explained the “Folds of the Flag,” and what was to take place. Along with Harry Brevoort, Aaron Hall and Charles Hayes, Krewson performed the dignified and respectful ceremony. For completion of the ceremony, the students helped VFW members Krewson, Brevoort, Hall, Hayes, Ed Folger and Virgil Zeller, who instructed and answered questions as they conducted the disposal.

After returning to class, fifth grade student Akasha Petrossi learned, “One thing I noticed was that they burn the flag when it is not serviceable and they do it respectfully.”

Photos by Christy Porter

The largest flags are cut into halves, then into quarters, before being fed by the Veterans into the burn barrel. All this is done without the flags ever touching the ground; the students were instrumental in ensuring this didn’t happen and took their job very seriously. All retired U.S. flags were properly disposed of in 45 minutes.

Fifth grade student Kit Benne stated, “I liked being able to help dispose respectfully of the flag.”

“When you burn the flag, you don’t let any color ash or one piece of thread left unburned,” said Julian Reyes, when commenting about what was learned.

Photos by Christy Porter

The VFW Auxiliary provided refreshments at the VFW Hall before a question-and-answer session began. Before they completely understood, discouragement veiled the student’s faces when Krewson gave a “boot camp drill,” then elation and pleasure when they successfully completed his barked requests and were complimented and commended. “I realized that drill sergeants will and can get loud if you don’t listen the first time,” stated fifth grader Reyes.

Photo by Christy Porter
The students had the opportunity to experience a boot camp drill conducted by Post Commander Billie Krewson.

One important question was presented, that of the burning of the flag by protesters as seen on television. Krewson clarified the difference; protesters are not participating in a respectful, dignified disposal of the flag, but desecrating it, and that should never be done.

Veterans were introduced, shared their military service and were available to answer questions. Auxiliary members Princess Fahnestock, Suzie Blackburn, Loretta “Cricket” Gann, Hazel Krewson and Adonia Rask were also introduced and proudly shared their familial military service.

Photos by Christy Porter

Before leaving the post to return to school, the students, teachers, Veterans and Auxiliary viewed the murals on the north side of the building, learning more about the different branches of the U.S. Military.

“Thank you to the VFW and the Veterans for showing our students the pride surrounding our country and our flag,” said Huff.

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