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Student veterans lead flag retirement ceremony

The University of Toledo’s Student Veterans of America held a flag retirement ceremony

on the front steps of the Student Union last Thursday.

 

Spectators witnessed student members of the armed forces demonstrate the proper way to

dispose of flags that have fallen into disuse and neglect.

 

Veronica Mora, national outreach coordinator at Veterans Matter, set the tone for the

ceremony as she took the podium to introduce the participating officers.

 

“Before you are student veterans of this university that have answered our nation's call to

service,” Mora said. “Our ranks are as diverse as America itself.”

 

During the flag-folding ceremony, Mora reminded the audience that the day’s

proceedings also served to remember former First Lady Barbara Bush, as well as the victims of

the Oklahoma City bombing that occurred on April 19, 1995.

 

The SVA’s Facebook page shows the flags were prepped days before the ceremony. To

prep the flags for retirement, the red and white stripes were separated from each other. The blue

union is then separated from the red and white stripes. The colors are then burned but separate.

 

Before the collected colors were burned in the ceremony, SVA members folded a flag 13

times. Each fold represented a symbol and was placed in the burn barrel.

 

“A lot of people don’t know you have to separate the colors when retiring a flag and burn

them separately,” Loroff said.

 

The United States Flag Code, Title 4, Section 8k, and FlagsUSA.com says “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, preferably burning them. The flag code says anyone can

perform the retirement and there is not one official ceremony required or recommended.

 

“Honoring those who have fallen that have paid the ultimate sacrifice, but for the ones

who are still out there every day, whether here at home or overseas offering their time to serve

their country is the best way to respect the flag,” said Sergeant David Lopez.

 

For Loroff, disrespecting the flag goes beyond mistreating or disposing it in the wrong

way.

 

"Stepping on the flag, dragging it, laying it on the ground, having it fall off a surface, are

ways people disrespect the flag,” Loroff said. “Other issues occur at sporting events during the

National Anthem, such as not saluting or having the right hand over the heart, taking off a hat, or

even standing up.”

 

Nearly 150 flags were collected from UT and around the community.

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