South-Doyle High School’s Army Junior ROTC collecting old flags for proper, honorable destruction


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The American flag has a long history. For those who served in the military, for these young men who someday hope to serve, the flag has special meaning. It’s our nation’s most iconic symbol. And revered on Memorial Day as we remember those who died.

Before they left for summer break, members of South-Doyle High School’s Army Junior ROTC demonstrated the proper way to fold the American Flag.

“Fold it in half. Keep the Union on the bottom. Fold it in half again Make sure each fold is as tight and as neat as possible,” said Avery Burnham, Company Commander. “One last fold, now fold the triangle on your end. Tuck it in as tightly as possible”

Just as these young men show the proper way to fold the flag, in a year’s time, they have an ambitious goal: They want your worn-out flag for a huge retirement ceremony. The cadets are working together with American Legion Post 2 in Knoxville. It’s a service project.

“We want people to bring their flags to us South Doyle High School so we can collect them.  We’re tying to get a thousand flags for our Service Learning project,” Jacob King, Battalion Commander, said.

Their goal also has a number. 

“A thousand flags. Last year we were with American Legion Post 2. We retired 508. Now we are looking to double that, a thousand flags,” says Avery Burnham, Company Commander.

“It’s going to be an uphill battle trying to bring in over a thousand flags. But we believe we can do it,” says Mason Strader, JROTC Cadet.

This is the type of flag the Junior ROTC cadets would like you do donate over the next year. This flag is not only tattered and torn, it’s no longer a fitting emblem to display.

As you see in these pictures, one way to properly retire the flag is by burning it.  

The United States Flag Code, states when “a flag is worn beyond repair it may be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

“This flag is extremely torn, it’s definitely ready to be retired,” says Burnham.

The cadets demonstrate one of the ways to separate a flag not suitable to fly. They start by cutting the stripes.

“We’ll start on one end and will cut down on the stripes,” Burnham continues.

There are 13 stripes that represent the thirteen original colonies. The red stripes are cut separately from the white ones. Then, the individual strips are set aside.

“What we are actually doing now is separating the Union completely from the stripes,” says Burnham. 

Often, the field of blue is kept whole. It would take too long to disassemble all one thousand flags they hope to collect by this time next year. So, only one flag will be separated.

“The very last flag, we are going to cut it up, like we showed you. We will take each individual stripe and will take each strip into the fire itself.” 

The Dignity Memorial Network of funeral homes will serve as collection points for the project scheduled for mid-May of 2020. 

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