Wilton Legionnaires respectfully retire American flags

WILTON — To many people, but in particular the members of American Legion Post 86, the American flag symbolizes liberty, for which they gave thanks in a prayer that opened the veterans’ annual flag retirement ceremony on Sunday.

They also gave thanks “for the privilege of serving our country in its hour of need and to continue to serve our country in times of peace,” as voiced by outgoing chaplain Frank Dunn.

The flags, commander Bill Glass said, although now unserviceable have “achieved their present state in a proper state of tribute, memory and love. A flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gauze or a beautiful banner of the finest silk, its value may be trifling or great, but its real value is beyond price for it is a precious symbol of all that we, 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.

“Let these faded flags of our country be retired and destroyed with respectful and honorable rights and their places be taken by bright new flags … and let no grave of our soldier, sailor or airman dead be dishonored and unmarked.”

With that, the veterans and their special guests lined up, each receiving a flag from the post’s Sergeant-at-Arms Bo Lotockey to bring to Adjutant Tom Moore who placed them in the new fire pit at the rear of the post. In all, post members will retire by burning several hundred flags. Some have come from veterans graves, others have been deposited in the “flags only” box outside post headquarters on Old Ridgefield Road.

Among those present at the ceremony were Nick Cabral, commander of the American Legion Third District and commander of Post 202 in Newtown, and Ernie Foito, Sergeant-at-Arms of the Third District and commander of Post 141 in Trumbull.

Also present were state Sen. Will Haskell, D-26, Troop 20 Eagle Scout Ian Kineon, who built the fire pit as his Eagle Scout project, and Connie von Zwehle, who provided lunch for those present.

New officers

Following the retirement ceremony, Cabral and Foito oversaw the installation of the posts’s new officers.

With this event, Bill Glass completed one year as commander and was reelected to another term.

“What makes this post so special is its membership and its leadership, and under Commander Bill Glass Post 86 shines,” Cabral said.

As he installed the new members, he said, “we all are all aiming for the same goals: the ideals of justice, freedom, democracy and loyalty.”

As he began his second term, Glass said, “this is one of the finest things I have ever done — to head such a fabulous organization.”

The remaining post officers are:

 Senior Vice President — Paul Niche.

 Junior Vice President — Alex Ruskewich.

 Segeant-at-Arms — Bo Lotockey.

 Finance Officer — Sean McNeil.

 Judge Advocate — Don Hazzard.

 Service Officer — Paul Niche.

 Chaplain — Bud Boucher.

 Adjutant/Historian — Tom Moore.