The front entrance to the Brunswick Police Department. C. Thacher Carter / The Times Record

Brunswick police and local veterans on Sunday will collect American flags that are worn out beyond repair for a retirement service this summer.

The event will take place at the police department on Pleasant Street in partnership with the Brunswick American Legion Post #20. The public is invited to drop off flags that are unserviceable between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Dave Watson, the commander of American Legion Post #20, said in an interview Thursday that flags will be kept then burned in a June ceremony in accordance with U.S. Flag Code. The ceremony is an annual event typically held at the Chamberlain Monument, Watson said.

The legion retires hundreds of flags every year, Watson said.

“We’re honoring the flag, we’re inspecting the flag and we’re retiring flags that are no longer usable for display,” said Watson, who served in the U.S. Air Force from 1966-70 and is also a town councilor.

Watson said that, to his knowledge, burning the flag as a method of retirement when it is beyond repair is the only appropriate scenario to do so. Otherwise, he said, it is a sign of disrespect.


“What people have to realize is that the flag does not represent the present administration,” Watson said. “Yes, it is a symbol of the country, but it represents the people of the country and it’s the people’s flag. That’s how I feel about it – it really represents all the people in the United States and to me that’s of significance as to why we need to honor it.”

Brunswick Police Chief Scott Stewart said that the event is designed to engage and educate the community. Stewart said that particularly in light of the events in Ukraine, it is important to remember what the flag means.

“We’re just trying to bring awareness to the flag, and to patriotism and exactly what that symbolizes,” Stewart said. “We here at Brunswick are a proud bunch and recognize our veterans here at the PD but also throughout the community. It’s a good chance to revisit that awareness and remind people exactly what that flag stands for.”

According to the Congressional Research Service, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the U.S. Flag Code on June 22, 1942, which provides rules that govern the display and use of the flag by U.S. citizens.

The U.S. Flag Code states: “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

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