Only have a minute? Listen instead
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

The response to the Brownsville Historical Association’s “Call for Flags” has been robust, according to BHA officials.

It’s the first year for the program, which collects worn out American flags for proper disposal, and runs through May 25. Worn out flags can be dropped off 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through Saturday at the Historic Brownsville Museum, 614 E. Madison St. No state flags or flags of other countries will be accepted.

If anything, the response has been greater than expected, according to Dave Parsons, BHA genealogy research and membership coordinator, who said plans are still in the works for disposing of the flags properly. BHA has been talking with Warriors United in Arms about a possible June ceremony for retiring the collected flags, he said, adding that June 14 is a possibility, since that’s Flag Day.

As for what constitutes a worn out flag, Parsons said, “I don’t know that there’s a set standard. Just whenever they start looking bad.”

In the days before synthetic materials it was customary to ceremonially burn flags that were tattered, shredded or stained beyond repair. While natural fiber flags are still burned in the traditional way, the U.S. Department of Defense says it’s also acceptable to bury the flag, once correctly folded into a triangle, in a “dignified box” or recycle them — especially in the case of synthetic or nylon flags, which should not be burned due to the toxic fumes released.

Leonor Medina, BHA collections and exhibits project coordinator, said boxes of flags started arriving on the first collection day, May 14. All sizes of flags small and large — and very large — have been brought in, she said, including massive flags flown over banks and car dealerships.

“We had a very big response to it,” Medina said.

Parsons noted that there are plenty of other options for dropping off flags for proper disposal — VFW posts and other veteran organizations, scout troops and fire stations, for instance. BHA also has a flag placement ceremony scheduled for May 25 from 7 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. at Old City Cemetery, he said, adding that’s it something BHA has done the last five or six years.

Parsons said there are about 450 confirmed veterans buried in Old City Cemetery.

“We get volunteers to come out and help us to put the flags out on each identified veteran grave,” he said. “We put them out on the Saturday before Memorial Day, and then we leave them up all week and start taking them down toward the end of the week after Memorial Day.”