CINCINNATI -- For more than 200 years, the American flag has been adopted as a patriotic symbol in the U.S.-- something that one wouldn't expect to find thrown away without ceremony.
Daily, the American family-owned waste company Rumpke, has found old American flags in its recycling centers and landfills.
For the company, the flag represents the sacrifices made as well as the glory and justice associated with our country, according to Rumpke spokesperson Amanda Pratt.
“We take them out and we make sure that they are disposed of with respect and dignity,” Pratt said.
The company has often enlisted the help of area organizations which have included the local girl and boy scout’s troops and the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
“They come and do ceremonies to properly dispose of the flags,” Pratt said.
For Sgt. John Shirley, Quartermaster for VFW Post 6095 and Vietnam veteran, the American flag has a huge significance.
“I believe in our flag and I believe in our country,” Sgt. Shirley said.
According to Shirley, when a flag is worn out or when someone does not know what to with an old flag, it needs to be disposed of properly.
“We’re supposed to dig a hole into the earth, have a substantial fire and burn it into total ash,” Shirley said. “And once they’re ash, they’re never disturbed again.”
On their website, the VFW lists the steps below as proper flag disposal etiquette:
1. The flag should be folded in its customary manner.
2. It is important that the fire be fairly large and of sufficient intensity to ensure complete burning of the flag.
3. Place the flag on the fire.
4. The individual(s) can come to attention, salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and have a brief period of silent reflection.
5. After the flag is completely consumed, the fire should then be safely extinguished and the ashes buried.
6. Please make sure you are conforming to local/state fire codes or ordinances.
Note: Please contact your local VFW Post if you'd like assistance or more information on proper flag disposal.
For more information on flag etiquette, visit here.