VFW Plans Flag Disposal at Broadview Farm June 18

The Derry Veterans of Foreign Wars will make sure the flag they fought under has a proper send-off.

Richard Tripp, a Town Councilor and member of the VFW, spoke at the March 28 Conservation Commission to request the use of Broadview Farm for this year’s flag retirement.

Post members retired more than 1,000 flags last year, also at Broadview Farm, Tripp said. From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., “it was a long day,” he said.

This year the post has “not nearly” as many flags, Tripp said. The disposal bin obtained and installed by members of the Pinkerton Academy Junior ROTC (Reserve Officer Training Corps) was not in as prominent a position after the new Transfer Station was built, he said. He said he talked to Transfer Station Director Joanie Cornetta and she agreed to have it moved to a more visible spot.

Tripp requested the fire pit and silo area for the ceremony. “We will clean the fire pit afterward,” he promised.

While the flag retirement ceremony is not a public event, Tripp said residents who have old or damaged flags are welcome to drop them off the day of the event.

The Conservation Commission voted unanimously to allow the VFW to use the property on June 18.

Carl Starosciak, commander of the VFW post, said a formal ceremony is done to see the flags off, usually conducted by the post chaplain. “We lay them all out on a table,” he said. Each flag is placed one by one on a grate and set on fire, and the post members salute after each one is burned. At the end of the ceremony, post members take the coals and bury them, usually on the VFW property, Starosciak said.

Starosciak said the post has been holding the ceremony for more than 20 years. Each year it obtains more flags to properly retire, and he credits that to an increased awareness among citizens.

The awareness built after the VFW and Pinkerton Junior ROTC, working in conjunction, installed a flag disposal box at the Derry Transfer Station. “We had a veteran who worked at the Transfer Station, and he got very disturbed at the way people were disposing of the flag,” Starosciak said. “He sat down with us, and we discussed what could be done.”

The ROTC cadets obtained and refurbished a used U.S. Postal Service box and it was set up at the Transfer Station two years ago, according to Starosciak.

At press time, Starosciak said he has six large plastic totes filled with used flags. “It has been working out,” he said. “Someone from the post goes over every week and empties the box.”

How do you decide when a flag should be put to rest? “It’s just common sense,” Starosciak said. “You see it starting to shred, or losing its color. Those are the two main areas of concern,” he explained.

Starosciak said in addition to dropping the flags at the transfer station or bringing them to the disposal ceremony, residents can leave a flag at the Post Home on Railroad Avenue. “Just go to the lower level and ring the bell,” he said.

“There are whole generations that need to know what this means to veterans,” Starosciak said. “We all fought for this flag – it’s part of our tradition.”