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Several groups give flags a proper disposal on Flag Day

Posted 15 June 2018 at 9:10 am

Photos by Ginny Kropf: Several groups in Orleans County gave faded and ripped American flags a proper disposal on Thursday, which was Flag Day. The top photo shows veterans in Medina disposing of flags during a ceremony Thursday morning at the Conservation Club on Bates Road. Pictured from left include Dave Kusmierczak, David Higgins (partly visible), Medina Police Department Lt. Todd Draper (with K9 Kye), and Jim Freas, past commander of Medina VFW.

By Ginny Kropf, correspondent

Veterans, firefighters and Scouts across Orleans County took part in ceremonies Thursday to properly dispose of the American flag.

The first was Thursday morning at the Conservation Club on Bates Road, Medina, where Police Lieutenant Todd Draper emphasized the correct terminology.

“It should not be called a flag burning,” Draper said. “That implies disrespect. It is a flag retirement ceremony.”

Jim Freas, past commander of the VFW in Medina, said the proper way to dispose of a flag is by burning or burying, but burning is the better way.

Draper, who is the Medina Police Department’s K-9 officer, is also a veteran and member of the VFW. He attended the ceremonies with his dog, Kye.

Also taking part were Dave Kusmierczak, a member of the VFW and American Legion; Larry Szatkowski; Randolph Wells; and David Higgins.

The veterans collect old flags in a mail box in front of the VFW on East Center Street, at Ace Hardware in Medina and the Veterans’ Service Agency in Albion.

From left, veterans Jim Freas, Dave Kusmierczak, Larry Szatkowski, Randolph Wells, Lt. Todd Draper and David Higgins wait for the fire to die down after retiring dozens of flags at the Conservation Club on Bates Road Thursday morning.

Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, Barre firefighters and officers of the Orleans County Emergency Management and Sheriff’s Department took park in flag retirement ceremonies Thursday evening at Barre Fire Hall.

Retiring old flags on Flag Day is a tradition at Barre Fire Hall which dates back many years.

“I’ve been doing it for 12 years with the Scouts, and they were doing it way before then,” said Karl Driesel, a Barre firefighter and leader with Boy Scout Troop 175. “It was started to help one of the Scouts fulfill their retirement for rank advancement.”

Driesel got the fire department involved five or six years ago, he said.

Karl Driesel, left, with Boy Scout Troop 175 in Albion and Barry Flansburg, a Barre firefighter and representative of Assemblyman Stephen Hawley, took part in flag retirement ceremonies Thursday night at Barre Fire Hall. Also in attendance were Barre fire chief Jamie Neal and EMT and Barre firefighter Jerry Bentley.

Eagle Scout Jack Hill of Medina, right, pokes flags into the fire during a flag retirement ceremony Thursday at the Scout Camp on School No. 10 Rd., Medina.

Another flag retirement ceremony takes place annually at the Boy Scout camp on School No. 10 Rd., Medina, where former Scout executive and veteran Frank Berger said they have been doing it for 26 years.

Scouts who participate are from Cub Pack and Scout Troop 28, sponsored by the Medina United Methodist Church, and Cub Pack and Scout Troop 35, sponsored by St. Mary’s Church.

Young Scouts, under the supervision of older boys and leaders, took turns dropping old flags into a burn barrel.

Jack Hill of Medina, an Eagle Scout, was one of those helping.

“I do it for the community,” Hill said. “This is one of the only two proper ways to retire a flag. We would rather people bring their old flags to us rather than throw them out.”

Nick Weatherbee, a Cub Scout with Pack 35, carefully drops a flag into the fire during a flag retirement ceremony Thursday night at the Scout Camp on School No. 10 Rd.

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