BATTLE CREEK, Mich. –
Many Americans will continue a 104-year-old tradition June 14 when they celebrate Flag Day to show respect for the Star Spangled Banner, something Defense Logistics Agency employees do year round.
President Wilson created the observance in 1916 to honor the official adoption of the Stars and Stripes as the national flag. The American flags that DLA Disposition Services personnel receive from customers are routinely honored through the extra attention they receive. The Defense Department manual governing the disposition of excess and surplus property directs that “flags with sentimental or historical significance” be treated differently. Flags with such significance may, according to the manual, “be donated to museums, preserved as historical property, displayed in a collection, or donated to an authorized donor.”
Flags without such significance go through the regular reutilization, transfer or donation cycles to seek new users for them. Flags that do not find a home with RTD customers can be considered for public sale if they are in good condition. For the flags that are not suitable for RTD or sales, the manual requires that they be destroyed privately, “preferably by burning, in such a manner as not to suggest disrespect.”
Employees at the DLA Disposition Services site at Tucson, Arizona, were successful in placing a large amount of flags with new users. In fact, the 2,556 flags they received last September comprised 96% of the American flags received by DLA Disposition Services since last year’s Flag Day.
“It’s great to support federal agencies with our national symbol,” said Area Manager David Powell.
For DLA Disposition Services Director Mike Cannon – son of a World War II veteran, brother to a Vietnam vet and retired from 33 year of Air Force service – every day is Flag Day as he proudly flies the Stars and Stripes at home on his 20’ pole in the middle of his front yard.
Before leading a global disposition workforce, Cannon said he learned about the proper disposal of retired flags in the Boy Scouts. Since those days he has seen the flag used in many ways.
“During my first tour in Iraq, I loaded far too many flag-draped transfer cases, some of them carrying my Airmen, on military aircraft for their final trip home,” Cannon said. “Five years ago this month, I sat on the flight line at Dover Air Force Base with the family of Krissie Davis as her flag-draped transfer case was escorted off the C-17.”
Davis was killed while deployed as a DLA employee in Afghanistan in 2015, and her remains were brought home to her family and friends in Anniston, Alabama.
Cannon said the memories he described have given him a profound respect for the flag, which he shares with his workforce as he encourages them to honor our nation’s flag through the proper displaying, handling and disposal of retired flags.