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Retire flags, honor veterans
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The Exchange Club, in cooperation with local funeral homes, has started a program that will retire old American flags and honor veterans at the same time.
“For many years The Parade of Flags has been a project of the McMinnville Evening Exchange Club to appropriately fly the flag of the United States on national holidays and other proper occasions,” said former national Exchange Club president Ken Roberts, who is a member of McMinnville Evening Exchange. “This project lines the primary city thoroughfare with our national emblem at 100-foot intervals. It is both a fitting patriotic service project and a fundraiser for the club. Funds are raised for a local scholarship program by encouraging businesses and individuals to sponsor a flag for a modest annual donation. The club, in turn, is responsible for securing the flags, displaying them on the appropriate days, and storing the flags between times of display. This community project is a high-visibility program that is one most popular and recognizable projects in the city.”
The Parade of Flags displays flags on a significant number of days during the year and thus over a period of time the flags become worn or discolored to the point they must be replaced.
Since the project involves a substantial number of flags, disposal of a noticeable quantity of unserviceable flags in a dignified and respectful manner becomes a challenge.
While there is no law, code or ordinance that dictates the method of retiring unserviceable flags, the traditional and preferred method is by respectfully burning. In this vein, the McMinnville Evening Exchange Club has developed a program that is honorable and fitting, Roberts says.
“It has become recognized that an increasing number of individuals are preferring cremation over burial and other forms of interment after death,” Roberts said. “The McMinnville Evening Exchange Club, in conjunction with each of the local funeral homes, has arranged for a retired flag to be donated as the final covering of a veteran who is being cremated. Thus, the flag honors the veteran who served our country just as he or she has honored that same flag by their service. Then, as both are cremated together, their ashes are forever intertwined.  What more fitting tribute to the service of each?”
This program of service is a dignified private ceremony used with the consent of a veteran’s family and it is appropriately restricted to veterans who are being cremated. Flags used in this manner are those being destroyed and are not part of any public display.
The program which provides flags at no cost to either the funeral homes or families of veterans has been broadly embraced by all concerned as a fitting end of service to our national emblem and the honored service member. For more information, contact Ken Roberts (931) 473-6300