In an observance held after a fund-raising barbecue at Summerset Vista, vets from the club retired more than a dozen American flags.
The ceremony consisted of a three-shot rifle salute by Marine Corps League veterans Duane Edwards and Harold Dominguez as veterans performed the military hand salute while others held their hands over their hearts.
Retiring flags by fire has been a long-standing tradition practiced by Boy Scouts, veterans organizations and government agencies. The U.S. Flag Code simply states that when a flag is no longer fit for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning.
Many organizations perform a simple, dignified ceremony, sometimes reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, a poem or a song while the flag is placed as gently as possible in the fire, sometimes folded, sometimes not.
Occasionally, the flag may be cut into numerous pieces, allowing each member of an organization to respectfully place a piece on the flames to be consumed and go out in a blaze of glory.
Last Saturday's barbecue was attended by nearly a 1,000 veterans and their families. It was the latest fund-raiser in an effort that has, according to Marine veteran Len Bregman, raised over $12,000 to create and mail nearly 300 boxes of personal items to our Armed Forces stationed in Afghanistan and Iraq. The club is still accepting donations and will be sending another shipment of boxes to the Middle East in a few weeks.
In addition, the club collects Toys For Tots during the holiday season. Last year, the club collected and distributed 475 toys to needy children in the Brentwood area. Better than 1,000 toys were collected by the group for the far East County Toys For Tots effort.
The Summerset Veterans Club also provides assistance to the Brentwood Parks and Recreation Commission in its continuing effort to complete Veterans Park. Club member and Parks and Recreation Commission Chair Ernie Rodrigues said, "Work will soon begin on the Memorial Garden at the rear of Veterans Park, where we'll lay scores of bricks inscribed with the names of veterans." Persons wishing to have a brick inscribed or desiring to contribute to the boxes being sent to Armed Forces members can contact Rodrigues at 516-1955 or Bregman at 516-2831.
The observance ended with the playing of "Taps" by bugler Dick Walsh in remembrance of the men and women who gave their lives in service to their country and to commemorate the ashes created by flag retirement.