PLATTSMOUTH – The meaning of what the American flag represents will hopefully last forever.

The cloth on which the Stars and Stripes are proudly displayed probably won’t, however.

There’s a proper method to “retire” flags that have become worn or simply “no longer serviceable,” according to Mike Pauly, a retired master sergeant of the U.S. Air Force.

Many witnessed that method during ceremonies last Saturday by the Veterans Memorial Wall at the Cass County Courthouse as several flags were placed in a respectful fashion in a burning barrel.

This is an annual ceremony during the Plattsmouth Harvest Festival in remembrance of who died in the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, and the patriotism that arose from that, according to Pauly.

It’s not called flag burning, he said.

“It’s flag retirement,” he said. “Burning sends an improper message.”

To retire a flag in this manner is more respectful than to dispose of it in other ways, Pauly said.

“The American flag is the most displayed and recognizable banner in the world,” Pauly told the audience.

With a bugler playing Taps, several flags were placed in the burning barrel with everyone standing quietly at attention.

Ryan Gradoville, a student at Plattsmouth High School who participated in the ceremony, said, “It shows a respect for the flag.”

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