Sheffield VFW Post holds flag retirement ceremony to honor veterans

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SHEFFIELD, Ala. (WHNT) - It’s a proud symbol of our nation; one which many veterans died to keep it flying.

When it becomes weathered and torn, the American flag must be retired with a ceremony and entombed.

With flags in hand, about a dozen people gathered at the Sheffield Vietnam Veteran’s Memorial Wednesday morning. They assembled to pay tribute to veterans by retiring American flags.

“I see my past relatives that have gone on, and I see my fellow soldiers that have gone on,” stated Larry Zandarski, past Commander for the Sheffield VFW Post 4919.

As the flames grew, emotions could be felt for those who have paid the ultimate price for the stars and stripes displayed on the flags.

Laine Tomas brought two flags to the ceremony, one of which her family flew while her son served with the 115th Signal Battalion in Afghanistan.

“We flew it and I just felt like it was time to retire it because it did have some tears,” explained Tomas. “And also the other one is from the Wise/Reynolds plant and they had purchased a new one and it needed to be retired.”

Sheffield’s VFW Post 4919 host the retirement ceremony each year. One by one, flags are lowered into a fiery pit to properly dispose of each one.

To finalize the ceremony, the ashes are then buried with those from past years.

“I think we forget a lot of times these little services right here, is just to say 'thank you,'” Tomas Stated.

All American Legion and VFW Posts across the valley collect worn and tattered American flags which need to be retired. Most also have drop boxes outside their halls and posts.