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Missoula retires 700 American flags at annual Flag Day ceremony

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Posted at 8:10 AM, Jun 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-15 10:10:15-04

MISSOULA — Despite scorching temperatures, a patriotic crowd gathered in an open field in Missoula on Monday for the annual Flag Day observance where American Flags are retired in a ceremonial burning.

According to organizers of the event, Flag Day is often overlooked, sometimes even forgotten.

In the crowd, veterans, military families, and kids learned about the flag itself and the reason it has its very own day.

Congress commemorated the creation of the Stars and Stripes as our national flag 244 years ago. Over the years, the flag has seen 27 variations, and as our country has grown, the stars on the flag have also grown in number, representing our 50 states.

Flag Day celebrations were officially established in 1916 when President Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation. The flag then earned its own day in 1949 when President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14 as “National Flag Day.”

It’s a day that comes with years of history and significant meaning, especially for those who have served our country.

Representing Boy Scout Troop 1911 at Monday’s ceremony, Johnathan, Michael, and Jackson were eager to share why they were in attendance and why they hope more in the community turn out next year.

"Today, we are trying to retire a bunch of flags that normally only BSA and military can do, so it’s actually pretty special,” said Jackson Fraser. “We're retiring the flags so we can honor the military and these flags that have served our country.”

“As Americans, we need to know about Flag Day. We need to remember the people who protected us and valiantly braved our lands,” echoed Michael Vatoussis.

Chiming in, Johnathan McHenry said, “Each flag tells a story."

A total of 700 tattered and torn flags were retired in total on Flag Day in Missoula. The ashes left by the flags will be delivered to the Western Montana State Veterans Cemetery to be given to families of veterans that will be buried there in the coming weeks.