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With dignity

Employee leads effort for proper flag retirement

Man throw flag into fire
Newman Lake, WA, Retail Associate David Hampton, an Army National Guard veteran, recently organized a ceremony to retire worn flags in Seattle District. Images: Coeur d'Alene/Post Falls Press

The sight of discarded, unfolded U.S. flags stuffed in a box saddened David Hampton, an Army National Guard veteran.

Hampton, a Newman Lake, WA, retail associate, was on a detail assignment at a nearby Post Office last fall when he made the discovery.

“I felt strongly I should dispose of them properly,” said Hampton, adding that some of the worn flags had been in storage for 15 years.

According to the U.S. Flag Code, flags no longer fit for display should be folded properly and “destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

Hampton received permission to email other area Post Offices to request old flags be shipped to him. Word soon spread throughout Seattle District.

“I was getting dozens of emails,” he recalled.

Hampton received 148 U.S. flags and 16 POW-MIA flags.

The flag disposal ceremony, attended by a local veteran’s group and members of Hampton’s church, was held last month in Hayden, ID. A local newspaper covered the event.

During the ceremony, Hampton recited the poem “Old Glory” and tossed the first flag into the flames as emotional attendees saluted.

Hampton hopes other districts ensure their old flags receive a proper retirement.

“It would be good to spread this patriotic attitude,” he said.

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