Organizers collect 150 flags from community for ceremony

It was a day of recognition and retirement for Old Glory.

About 150 American flags were ceremoniously burned June 14 as Centennial Hills observed Flag Day .

The worn, torn, faded and badly soiled American flags were burned, also known as retired, in proper protocol at a service at Palm Northwest Mortuary, 6701 N. Jones Blvd .

The mortuary, Boy Scouts of America Troop 555 and cadets from the Nellis Air Force Base Civil Air Patrol hosted the ceremony, and the Scouts destroyed the tarnished flags collected at Palm Mortuary locations.

It was the first time Palm Northwest Mortuary conducted a commemoration and flag-retirement service, Palm Northwest Mortuary general manager Kelly Browder said.

"A flag is no longer a respectful symbol of the nation when it’s tattered or torn," she said. "We have heard a lot from different families because nobody is sure how to properly retire a flag."

U.S. code states, "The Flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. "

After flags are retired, their metal rings, also known as grommets , are retrieved and the ashes are buried. The grommets, considered good luck, are scheduled to be presented to American Legion posts around the valley on Veterans Day, Browder said.

"These flags have been throughout the community. Flags flown over government buildings, local cemeteries, flags flown at different businesses," she said.

Each Boy Scouts of America troop has its own process within the U.S. protocol to retire a flag. Some troops shred or cut a flag before it is burned, Browder said.

Boy Scouts of America Troop 555 keeps the flag intact before the burn, junior assistant Scout master Nicholas Alvar said.

Following remarks from Las Vegas City Councilman Steve Ross , Ward 6, and mortuary market sales director Olen Crowe , the troop removed a tattered flag from a flagpole, assigned a Scout to each corner, presented it and recited an honorable message, Alvar said.

The flag was then placed in a fire. The ashes were collected the next day.

"It is with honor we give this flag," Crowe said. "We know the pride that swells up in us and that’s a pride we don’t want to forget."

Ross read the poem "I Am the Flag" by Ruth Apperson Rous and spoke about how stars and stripes in red, white and blue are a symbol of liberty and freedom domestically and abroad.

Ross said he grew teary-eyed during the flag presentation and whispered, "Doesn’t it make you feel good to be an American?" to Crowe.

"It’s a shame that most Americans don’t know what the flag means," Ross said. "We are failing our young people. That’s why it’s so important they learn about the American flag, as well as their parents."

Raymer Pry , president of Palm Mortuaries and Cemeteries , said the business collected the flags from community members for the Flag Day retirement.

Although it’s acceptable for any citizen to retire and burn a flag, Browder said, Palm Mortuaries Cemeteries plans to continue collecting damaged flags for next year’s festivities.

For more information, call 464-8460 or visit palmmortuary.com .

Contact Centennial and North Las Vegas View reporter Maggie Lillis at mlillis@viewnews.com or 477-3839.

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