By Diane Glidewell
On Saturday afternoon, about 50 flags were burned in a ceremony held by the American Legion Honor Guard of Post 258 of Jonesboro, to demonstrate the proper way to dispose of American flags no longer in serviceable condition. The honor guard held the event on the grounds of the Daughtry Foundation Building at the corner of South Mulberry Street and College Street, in Jackson, at the invitation of the Jackson American Legion Post 102.
The honor guard, which is 15 to 20 individuals strong, provides education on flag etiquette in schools and for civic groups upon request. The group from Jonesboro Post 258 also functions as an honor guard at funerals, and served at about 40 funerals last year. The guard placed flags at the graves of veterans on Memorial Day, and also held a flag-disposal ceremony in Jonesboro on Memorial Day.
"We often hold flag ceremonies at night, which is impressive," said John Harper, chairman of the honor guard and past district commander.
Carrying out the flag-disposal ceremony in Jackson were Harper, Post District Commander Ron Miller, Steve Durbin, Ray Reece, and Tom Harris. They folded each flag according to protocol and arranged the flags on a table prior to the ceremony. Flags which were too worn to fold were placed in the fire bin before the ceremony.
Representatives of Boy Scout Troop 161 and Girl Scout Troop 344 carried each of the remaining flags, one by one, from Harper to Durbin, who accepted them, saluted, unfurled the flags, placed them on the fire, and stepped back for a final salute. The scouts carried the flags against their chests with arms crossed protectively.
When the last flag was placed on the fire, Reece, who stood at a distance under a pecan tree, raised his trumpet to his lips and played "Taps." Afterwards, Art Van Dusen, commander of American Legion Post 102, offered a closing prayer.
The flags burned at the ceremony in Jackson came from the American Legion posts, from several local businesses, and from the scouts. Representatives of the Butts County Fire Department brought several flags for disposal, including two Georgia state flags, and former Congressman Mac Collins brought four flags to be disposed of properly.
"Thank you for what you are doing here," Collins said.
American Legion Post 102 and Ladies Auxiliary Unit 102 invited veterans and family members in the Butts County area to join them. They meet on the fourth Monday of the month at 6 p.m., at the Daughtry Foundation Building. At their last meeting, on May 24, they voted to donate $101 to the Jackson High School Health Occupations Students of America (HOSA) to use in attending national competition in Orlando, Fla. In April, the post and auxiliary gave $50 each, a total of $100, to local Girl Scouts to purchase an American flag.
"We want to help young people," said Van Dusen.