GOULDSBORO — Recycling has been the topic of plenty of debate in Gouldsboro this summer, but what about properly disposing of American flags?
That just became much easier for Gouldsboro residents with the installation of two flag recycling boxes by the Gouldsboro Veterans Committee.
“Before this, you had to go all the way to Ellsworth to find a recycling box,” said Charles Flaherty, chairman of the Gouldsboro Veterans Committee.
The recycling boxes, which are located at the town office and the post office, were installed this week. Committee member Mark Sobczak had heard about flags being improperly disposed of at the Gouldsboro Transfer Station and purchased the boxes.
“Now people can bring them here, and we’ll take them to the VFW in Ellsworth,” Sobczak said.
A flag becomes unusable once it is worn, frayed, torn or soiled in any way. But flags aren’t to be simply thrown out; there are conventions for properly disposing of a flag when it is retired.
“It can be a very formal ceremony, almost like a funeral,” Flaherty said.
Organizations such as the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) or the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America can burn, bury, shred or recycle flags that can no longer be flown.
“Once a flag is cut or shredded, it ceases to be a flag,” Flaherty said.
In Gouldsboro, the Veterans Committee often cuts the stars from old flags and sews them into keepsakes. For a flag to be burned or buried, it is properly folded 13 times and then disposed of with a short, respectful ceremony.
“You know, for us we’re used to handling the flag,” Sobczak said. “That’s something you learn to do from the day you show up for training. You learn to honor the flag, and this makes it easier to do that.”