On April 24, I was in the process of heading out the door to burn unserviceable American flags. My 6-year-old granddaughter asked me an innocent, but very important question: “Why do you burn the old, torn flags Grandpa?”

I tried explaining that the American flag represents our country. It is a symbol of freedom and liberty to which Americans pledge their allegiance. Flag retirement is the term used to define the proper, dignified way of destroying United States flags that are no longer fit to serve the nation.

I’m not sure if my beautiful granddaughter understood the complete concept at that moment in her life, but the fact that she wanted to know made me very proud of her.

With the invaluable assistance of the F.E. Warren Air Force Base fire department and members of the American Legion Post 6, we were able to burn approximately 3,000 unserviceable flags. Flags that were torn, tattered or faded were dropped off at Post 6. Citizens have been encouraged to drop their flags off, rather than placing them in the trash or landfill. We received countless flags from Laramie County residents, as well as several towns surrounding the county.

The main purpose of this letter is to relay my gratitude to the firemen who did an outstanding job, bringing honor to their fire station, Warren AFB and the United States Air Force: Chief Master Sgt. Todd Neilson (retired), Senior Master Sgt. Zachrey Silvis, Tech Sgt. Thomas Gerth, Staff Sgt. James Blair, Staff Sgt. Douglas Martin, Staff Sgt. Troy Juhl, GS07 William Wells, GS07 Alex Esquivel, Senior Airman Brock Dornbusch, Senior Airman Tanner Soterion and Airman 1st Class Brady Womack.

I also thank the Post 6 members who assisted in this honored tradition: Terry Harbick, Robert Teague, Mervin Breazeale and Rolf Algermissen.

To quote John Wayne, “Sure I wave the American flag. Do you know a better flag to wave?” If, like my granddaughter, you have questions or a desire to volunteer, please contact me at 307-638-2526.

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