ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – The New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial in Albuquerque is collecting American flags that need to be disposed.
“They are dirty, they are torn,” said a volunteer.
Some of the flags are faded. Others are old.
“Don’t throw it in the trash or the dumpster,” the volunteer said.
Instead, volunteers at the Veterans’ Memorial want people to bring their old American flags to them.
“Treating the flag properly from the beginning to the end of its life, I think is important,” said New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial President Donald Loftis.
Donald Loftis is a Vietnam veteran. To him, the American flag is more than a piece of fabric that flaps in the wind.
“It’s a symbol of honor, not only for our nation, but for those who have served,” Loftis said.
That’s why retiring the flag in the right way is so important to him.
On Saturday, volunteers from the Veterans’ Memorial and Sagebrush Community Church held a flag retirement ceremony. They cut the flags into four pieces making sure to never cross into the field of blue.
“The honor is to keep the stars together because it has only been separated one time during the Civil War, so we don’t cut the flag on the stars. We just cut the stripes,” Loftis said.
Once the flag had been cut. Volunteers put saw dust in a fire pit. Then, they put the flags in the pit with the stars facing upward.
The fire was lit. Then, the group said the Pledge of Allegiance.
“It’s such an honor to be able to see a ceremony like this,” said Sagebrush Community Church volunteer David Tomasi.
The ceremony was intended to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice and those who continue to serve.
Volunteers at the memorial have a flag retirement ceremony about twice a month.
If you have a flag you need to get rid of, you can drop if off at the mailbox in front of the New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial visitors center.