Watertown’s Flags Retired With Respect During Flag Day Ceremony

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Watertown Veterans Service Officer Patrick George, center, gets help from a Watertown Cub Scout to fold the flag during the flag retirement ceremony.

After flying outside for several months atop a flag pole, the American Flag from Watertown’s Town Hall had become worn and was due for retirement. On Friday, it was retired along with a few other Star Spangled Banners during a ceremony at Ridgelawn Cemetery.

The event was hosted by Watertown’s veterans groups and Watertown Veterans Service Officer Patrick George as part of the town’s Flag Day observance.

“Three weeks ago we celebrated Memorial Day and paid tribute to the people who served their country in the military,” George said. “Part of that country is the flag we are going to retire today.”

The strong winds whipped the flags being presented by the Watertown Police Honor Guard at the Flag Retirement Ceremony at Ridgelawn Cemetery.

Retirement of the Stars & Stripes is done by incinerating them, but the burning should be done at a ceremony.

George got some help from some Watertown Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts to fold the flags into a triangle, and then placed them in a large ceramic bowl to be burned.

The windy conditions made it difficult to light the flags, even with the help of gasoline. Taps was played before they were able to be lit, but thanks to a Department of Public Works employee with a lighter the flags were retired.

Members of Watertown’s veterans groups salute at the Flag Retirement Ceremony on Friday.

People who have flags that are worn and tattered have a couple options, said George, who oversees the dozen or so flags at Watertown’s municipal buildings, parks, and the Fire and Police stations.

“The Department of Public Works collects them at the Recycling Center,” George said. “The Shutt Detachment (on Mt. Auburn Street) also has a collection box.”

The flags collected are then taken to a center where they are retired, George said.

The retired flags turn to ash during the Flag Retirement Ceremony in Watertown on Friday.

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