One of the reasons many love Leland is the small-town feel alongside the resources larger towns boast. One event coming this Saturday (March 3, 2018) is the epitome of that beautiful balance. The Leland area American Legion Post 68 is planning a Flag Collection event from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm at Municipal Park on Town Hall Drive.
If you’ve ever wondered what to do with a flag that has seen better days, that has been worn and frayed, there is a way to let it go with respect to the nation. Here in Leland, where accessibility meets nationwide traditions, neighbors are planning an event where you can retire your flag with dignity.
The American Legion Post in Leland overseeing the collection event is the fastest growing Post in the state! Bringing in guest speakers, helping with Junior ROTC events at the local high schools, hosting their signature Poppy Day event and more, it is an active Post full of energy and a strong sense of community service. They are also active participants in many community events, such as Founder’s Day and Trunk or Treat.
“When I took over in June 2016, we had approximately 50 members, and today our membership is 122 folks and growing. We’ve doubled in size in the last 18 months,” says Commander Jim Zelenski.
The American Legion has a deep history throughout the nation. Movie stars Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart, as well as ten of our last twelve presidents, were American Legion members. The American Legion is the nation’s largest veteran service organization. So perhaps it shouldn’t be a surprise that it is growing here in Leland and North Brunswick County.
One of the most striking ways the Post helps the community is with the Unserviceable Flag Event. The American flag, each and every one, symbolizes nationality and means much for so many Americans. American Legion posts across the nation work to educate the public on how to treat the flag with respect, honoring all it stands for. While there is no legal penalty for destroying a flag, it is an act to be taken seriously, even if done for utility reasons. To encourage responsible flag treatment, the American Legion Post in Leland has a collection day, where they gather any and all flags that have served their purpose. Once all flags are turned in, the veterans in the American Legion appropriately and with ceremony “retire” the flags in accordance with law, custom and etiquette.
According to Commander Zelenski, “The U.S. flag code states that when the flag ‘is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, [it] should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.’” Yet ideally this is done with deference.
Last year, the Post had a flag collection at Brunswick Forest and received almost 200 U.S. flags, which they retired.
“Bring your old, worn-out tattered flag for proper disposal. We will have collection boxes and hope to collect a couple hundred more,” says Commander Zelenski. The American Honor Guard will set out dozens of flags and services flags for the collection celebration.
The Flag Collection will also be a good time to meet veterans and other residents living in the area. Post 68 will have a canopy set up in Municipal Park in Leland by 9:00 am and will collect flags until 4:00 pm.
For all those interested, bringing a flag is not a requirement to be part of the event! Legion Post members will be serving hot dogs, drinks, cookies and chips and will seek a $5 donation per meal towards their Post’s work. It will be a wonderful time of fellowship for the Town.
Once the flags are collected, the Legion will host a special Flag Retirement Ceremony on Saturday, April 28, 2018, at Municipal Park.
American Legion Post 68 has requested and received approval from the Leland Town Council to host its first Retirement Ceremony in which U.S. Flags will be honored and burned at sunset on Town property.
“There will be readings, a chaplain there…officers will march the flags to a fire pit or fire can. It’s a very moving ceremony,” Commander Zelenski shares.
The Post does admit that if they can’t get ceremony plans to meet expectations, if something during planning throws the vision they intend for the ceremony, they will hold the flags and have the ceremony in the fall. So those interested in attending the retirement ceremony itself should stay tuned to the Legion’s website. This will not, however, affect the collection drive.
The American Legion Post 68 meets the third Thursday each month at Blossoms Restaurant in Magnolia Greens. An early dinner at 4:30 pm is available, followed by a “meet & greet” at 5:30 pm. The meeting begins at 6:00 pm. A typical meeting consists of an opening ceremony, pledge of allegiance, chaplain prayer, POW-MIA moment of honor, and a speaker. Meetings last about one hour.
To learn more about American Legion Post 68 in Leland, NC visit www.ncpost68.org.