The flag burning ceremony at the American Legion Nicholson Post 38 that takes place every Flag Day had to be canceled Tuesday because of a statewide burn ban, the post’s commander said.
Each Flag Day — June 14 — the officers of the American Legion post hold a ceremony at 7 p.m. to properly dispose of an American flag that is no longer serviceable, Post 38 Commander Oliver Markland said.
Flags that are not serviceable are flags that are damaged or worn.
The ceremony features an honor guard, the playing of the National Anthem, a speech as well as the burning of the flag itself, Markland said.
The ceremony usually lasts 12 to 15 minutes, he said.
This year’s burn ban is not the first time Mother Nature has interfered with the ceremony.
There was a time in the past 10 years that bad weather and a power outage forced the post to cancel the Flag Day burning, Markland said.
But Flag Day is not the only day of the year the post burns flags.
The officers of the post burn flags for residents all year long, Markland said.
Right now, the Baton Rouge post, 151 S. Wooddale Blvd., has a backlog of them.
“I’d say we have more than 1,000 flags right now,” Markland said.
“Someone stole the barrel we use for the burnings a couple of months ago,” Markland said.
Post officers use a 55-gallon drum to burn the flags throughout the year.
The post recently replaced the barrel, but officers are waiting for the burn ban to be lifted to resume burning, Markland said.
“We want to make sure to be safe, and we have an annual permit to burn, but we have to get permission from the Baton Rouge Fire Department each time before we can burn a flag,” Markland said.
Some people don’t realize they can’t just throw a flag
away or “use it as a rag” when the flag is no longer serviceable, Markland said.
The officers of the post follow an American Legion manual that outlines how to properly burn a flag.
During the special Flag Day ceremony, a small portion of the flag is dipped in kerosene before it is placed in a large black cast-iron pot. Charcoal in the pot is already burning when the flag is placed in the pot, Markland said.
“I think for anyone who is concerned about our American flag and understands what it means to our country, the ceremony can be very emotional,” Markland said.
“We do it for reverence. We don’t want to see it destroyed the wrong way,” Markland said.