The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

November 12, 2012

Annual ceremony honors veterans, retires flags

By Katie Dahlstrom
Herald Staff Writer

CLINTON — A fiery blaze of 2,107 flags being consumed by fire burned through the pouring rain on Sunday as Clinton AMVETS Post No. 28 held its annual Veteran’s Day flag retirement ceremony.  

Bill Rickerl, who served as a Marine during Vietnam, is now post commander for AMVETS Post No. 28.  According to Rickerl, the flags are tied onto a steel structure 100 at a time, then doused with kerosene.  

“I think it’s important that flags that have been used honorably, be retired the same way.  I think being consumed by fire is the right way,” Rickerl said. “It’s a moving experience for us all to be able to bestow the honor the flags that they so deserve.”

As the flags burned, Bill Hall, a son of AMVETS member and part of the honor guard, solemnly played “Taps,” a performance he has been doing for the AMVETS for approximately a decade.  

“It’s important to play ‘Taps’ for the veterans who have died because that’s their last call,” Hall said.

Nancy Burgess, whose husband is a military veteran, sang “America the Beautiful” and “Arlington” by Trace Adkins during the ceremony, which moved some in the crowd to tears.  

Members of the honor guard also said a few words during the brief ceremony. Following the ceremony, veterans, their spouses, children and friends mingled, ate dinner and braved the rain for a glimpse at the flags burning.  

After the flags have burned, the ashes are disposed of in a secret location known only by Rickerl.