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American Legion Post 11 member Shannon Stoddard, left, and Post Adjutant Mary Day Smith remove flags from the depository outside the post headquarters at 318 S. Court St. in Florence. [BERNIE DELINSKI/TIMESDAILY]

Old Glory is an enduring symbol of freedom, and those who served our country to keep it flying want to make sure it receives respect in retirement.

The American Legion Post 11 in Florence and Post 31 in Tuscumbia have depositories outside their headquarters for the public to drop off old or tattered flags, and apparently there is a high demand for the service.

The Florence post is at 318 S. Court St. The Tuscumbia one is at 110 N. Main St.

"There have been days we've gotten as many as 40 out of that flag box," Post 11 Adjutant Mary Day Smith said. "People bring us all size flags, even the tiny ones."

She said the legion post retired 1,478 flags in 2108.

"It just shows how patriotic this area is, because you see flags everywhere you go," Smith said.

Post 31 President Charlie Grimmett said this is the first year the Tuscumbia post has had a flag box.

"One of our members happened upon it and we had some donated artwork done on it and put it out for the public to use," Grimmett said. "The response has been overwhelming. We've had to check it several times a week."

Today is Flag Day, but Grimmett said citizens should respect the American flag year-round, including providing a proper retirement for it.

"That's what we were trying to tell people by having the box out: Please don't throw your flag away," he said. "Please bring it to us so it can be disposed of in an appropriate manner. It's good to see it used."

Both posts have flag retirement ceremonies to make sure the flags are disposed of properly.

"If it's not a bold red, if it's not a royal blue, if the stripes aren't white, you need to retire it," Smith said.

She said the legion also provides a service to families of veterans who have had a flag draped across their casket. The flag is folded into a triangle and presented to the family.

"Sometimes from handling it, it loosens up a little bit," Smith said. "The family can bring it to us and we'll fold it correctly. We have members trained in doing that properly."

She said a family member can bring in a triangle box and a legion member will place the flag inside it in a manner that makes certain it is presented properly.

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski

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