Over 200 flags, some big, some small, all tattered, were officially retired on Veterans Day at the Brooks Fire Department by members of American Legion Grant-Staples Post 183 of Brooks, Veterans of Foreign Wars Randall Collins Post 3108 of Belfast, and members of the community.

According to the United States Flag Code, “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

American Legion Commander Richard Rote said it was the first time in three years they had been able to hold the event because in previous years it had been too windy.

In a short and intimate ceremony with approximately 10 residents attending, Post Adjutant Dan Miron of the Brooks American Legion said the flags had served “well and long,” and were now ready to be retired from service.

The group sang “God Bless America” and then began the process of burning the flags in a metal barrel.

The Rev. Russ Arnold of the Brooks Congregational Church said he is a veteran, and standing next to members of the American Legion and VFW, he added, “They just kind of adopted me and let me hang around.”

Veteran Daniel Mulcahey said he had spent 30 years in the Army and 32 years in the American Legion. “I was a command sergeant major,” he said. “I got a couple bullet holes in me.

“I was lucky, I guess,” he said.

Mulcahey was sent to Japan during World War II and served in the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment. The flag burning ceremony, he said, made him think of his father, who served in World War I.

“I think of the dead that were killed when I was over there,” he said. “You’ve got to think about the people who lost legs and arms and about the families with children growing up without a father.”