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
"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.