How To Properly Dispose of American Flag; Where To Bring An Old Flag in CNY
After a multi-year absence because of the COVID-19 pandemic, an annual ritual to properly retire American flags is returning to Central New York this weekend.
It's called the Watchfire and believe it or not, the ceremony culminates with the burning of thousands of American flags. The retirement of the flags is part of a larger ceremony and is not quite as simple as just setting a flag on fire. Often, flag burning is considered to be desecration - a sign of disrespect or hate of the government or the country. However, such an act is not illegal even as an act of desecration, as it is protected by First Amendment freedom of expression.
Watchfires, however, are done as a way to pay tribute to service men and women and, when done properly, is the appropriate way to retire old, faded or tattered American flags.
Several similar events are held on Memorial Day Weekend at approved locations across New York State and the country, including a large event typically held each year at the New York State Fairgrounds in Syracuse.
The Watchfire at the fairgrounds is happening this Sunday, May 28, and begins at 6:00 p.m.
If you have a faded, tattered or otherwise damaged American flag, you don't have to drive all the way to the New York State Fairgrounds this weekend to dispose of it. You can simply take it to your local American Legion Post or V.F.W.
Here are a few of the Legion Posts and V.F.W.'s in the Utica/Rome-area:
Henry Smith Post - 325 Erie Boulevard West, Rome
Whitestown America Legion Post 1113 - 110 Main Street, Whitesboro
Utica Post 229 - 409 Herkimer Road, Utica
New Hartford American Legion - 8616 Clinton Street, New Hartford
Clark Mills American Legion Post 26 - East South Street, Clinton
Central New York Veterans Outreach Center - 726 Washington Street, Utica
All you need to do is walk-in and tell them that you have a American flag that is no longer serviceable and should not longer be on displayed, and they will handle the rest.