Don’t just toss your flag

Published 12:11 am Monday, July 6, 2015

NATCHEZ — If you noticed during last weekend’s Fourth of July festivities, any U.S. flags that are no longer in tip-top shape, don’t just toss them out, but give them a proper, legal retirement.

It’s easier than you think.

Just take the flags to one of the more than a dozen collection locations around the area and a group of local volunteers will give Old Glory a proper send off.

Email newsletter signup

The U.S. Flag Code states tattered flags should be “destroyed in a dignified way.”

The Home With Heroes organization aims to provide that service by collecting old flags and giving them a respectful retirement.

Founder and President of the Home With Heroes Foundation Galen Mark LaFrancis said flag retirement ceremonies have been going on in the area in some form or another by different organizations for 10 years.

The first was at the Copiah-Lincoln Community College.

“When it was moved downtown the interest in donating flags intensified,” LaFrancis said.

LaFrancis said approximately 150 flags are in storage this year so far.

The total number of flags collected over the years is unknown. Robert Morgan is the co-captain of Home With Heroes’ support team and one of the volunteers who helps collect the flags.

“It’s needless to say (but) there’s been a lot,” Morgan said.

Like LaFrancis, Morgan is a former Air Force veteran. He said he was always trained to show respect for the flag and it means something special to people.

“It’s a deep, personal honor that each one of us carries,” Morgan said.

The collection points are scattered throughout the area.

Bins labeled with information about the program mark each collection point. Some of the locations include government offices, a church and even a car dealership.

“I wanted it where a variety of people would go,” LaFrancis said.

And a variety of people have become involved, depositing flags and helping with the collection. For instance, Boy Scouts help store and fold the flags.

All the work culminates in a ceremony on Veteran’s Day. At each ceremony all flags, no matter how big or small, are folded, burned and saluted.

“It’s a very solemn ceremony,” LaFrancis said. “It’s actually quite quiet.”

LaFrancis said sometimes the only thing participants can hear is the crackling of the fire, breathing and the shuffling of feet.

“Old Glory is still Old Glory until she’s burned and saluted,” LaFrancis said.

The locations of the U.S. flag deposit bins are the Veterans Service Office on Washington Street, the Adams County Circuit Clerk’s Office, Mims Jewelers, Stine, First Baptist Church, Reed Insurance in Vidalia, Vidalia City Hall, Great River Chevrolet, Copiah-Lincoln Community College, The Concordia Sentinel, WMIS/WTYJ, Rivergate Bowl, Woodmen of the World and Natchez Market.