CHARLESTON, W.Va. - More than 1,000 tattered and worn American flags have been collected and will be retired during a dignified ceremony to be held on Memorial Day.
The Flag Retirement Ceremony will begin at 10 a.m. Monday at the Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery in Institute.
Heather Miles is public affairs coordinator for the West Virginia Department of Veterans Assistance, which oversees the cemetery. She was surprised that so many flags have been collected.
Additional flags may be dropped off at the cemetery office or brought to the ceremony, she said.
"There are probably still plenty of people who don't know this is an option," she said. "The ceremony is hosted by the cemetery and is conducted by the Honor Guard."
The Donel C. Kinnard Memorial State Veterans Cemetery Honor Guard is a nonprofit organization made up of volunteers.
John Hancock, president of the Honor Guard and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve, will serve as commander at the Flag Retirement Ceremony.
Worn flags have arrived from throughout the state, he said.
"They have come from the VFW, American Legions, and the statehouse," Hancock said. "Individuals have dropped them off. They have come from everybody."
The 45-minute patriotic ceremony will include inspection of the flags to verify that they are in poor condition. "Taps" will be played and flags burned in barrels until 3 p.m. The ashes of the burned flags will be buried in a designated area with a marker.
While this is the first such ceremony at the cemetery, plans call for holding others throughout the years and placing ashes in the same area, he said.