After faithful service, flags are retired

Jeannette Ross photos

With the roar of thousands of motorcycles in the background, members of American Legion Post 86 retired more than 750 American flags on Sunday, Sept. 10. The motorcycles were part of the CT United Ride making its way up Route 7, just beyond the post headquarters on Old Ridgefield Road.

The Legionnaires were joined by 13 members of Boy Scout Troop 20, ranging from Tenderfoot to Eagle Scout.

Many of the flags retired were those that have marked the graves of Wilton veterans, placed for the town’s Memorial Day commemoration. Others have been flown in public places or were dropped off at the post by members of the community.

The flags “have reached their present state in a proper service of tribute, memory and love,” Post Commander Don Hazzard said as part of the ceremony.

“A flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gauze or a beautiful banner of the finest silk. It’s value may be trifling or great; but its real value is beyond price, for it is a precious symbol of all that we and our comrades have worked for and lived and died for, a free nation of free men, true to the faith of the past, devoted to the ideals and practice of freedom and democracy.”

With that, post members and scouts took turns saluting Sgt. at Arms Ken Shewitz, each taking a flag from him and taking it to Hazzard and Adjutant Tom Moore, who tended three metal drums into which the flags were placed and burned. Most of the flags had been burned earlier in the day, with several dozen reserved for the ceremony.

Post members participating included Bud Boucher, Bill Glass, Alex Ruskewich, Bill Glass, Ed Stein, Trygve Hansen, Frank Dunn, Shewitz, Hazzard, and Moore. Bo Lotocky, who belongs to a New York post, participated as a guest.

Scouts were Colin Rafferty, Michael Lamond, Sam Perry, Ryan Cooper, Harish Subramanian, Aaron Clark, Geir Magnusson, Ryan McElroy, Drew Lane, Owen Abrahamson, Anton Rushevich, and Tony Musilli. They were accompanied by Assistant Scoutmaster Michael McElroy.

The flag retirement ceremony is an annual event presented by the post on the weekend preceding Sept. 11. It concluded with a barbecue lunch.