Honoring the Star Spangled Banner
Canadian Valley Electric Cooperative partners with organization to properly dispose of damaged, worn American flags
Photos by Ryan Monroe/CVEC
Bob Weaver, retired Canadian Valley Electric Cooperative (CVEC) marketing & economic development manager, still vividly remembers the day CVEC member Jim Amerson walked through the co-op’s doors in 2001. Amerson was driving past the co-op facility one day when something caught his eye. He then proceeded to stop by and share what was on his mind with then CVEC General Manager George Hand.
“He was very kind when he told George our American flag was in poor shape,” Weaver said. “He asked if we wouldn’t mind doing a better job keeping it in good condition as a sign of respect to our country. George and I were completely on board, and it led us to the question; ‘How do we dispose of an old, tattered American flag in an appropriate, honorable manner?’”
Thankfully, Amerson knew whom to loop in for help. Enter American Legion, the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization advocating for patriotism through wholesome community programs. One of these programs includes the ceremonial burning of old or damaged flags, which involves placing an unfolded flag over a fire pit after it’s soaked with kerosene and burying the flag’s ashes after the fire is safely extinguished. With the partnership of a local American Legion chapter, CVEC held its first ceremonial burning the same year Amerson walked into CVEC. It has now become an annual community event.
“CVEC has always been great at doing what’s in the best interest of our membership and our community,” Weaver said. “It creates a sort of awareness with Old Glory, and it was an honor to have an integral role in the ceremony for 15 years.”
Following Weaver’s retirement in 2016, he passed the torch on to CVEC’s Business & Government Relations Manager Jarrod VanZant. Last year, the ceremony hosted about 350 people. The cooperative will be celebrating its 19th ceremonial burning on Tuesday, October 8. The co-op will award one $250 scholarship to a sixth, seventh, or eighth-grader and another to a ninth, 10th, 11th, or 12th-grader for their winning essays about what the American flag means to them.
“I love seeing our whole community take part in the event, including our youth,” VanZant said. “It instills pride within them and gives them a newfound respect for the flag.”
CVEC and American Legion have properly disposed of more than 35,000 American flags in 18 years of ceremonial burnings, and they hope to continue the sincere legacy for years to come.
“There’s so much great camaraderie, respect and honor at every single one of these ceremonies,” VanZant said. “I’m proud of CVEC and their willingness to host an event that is such a wonderful tribute to our nation’s flag.”
Experience the 19th annual ceremonial burning on Tuesday, October 8!
- When: Starts at 6 p.m., and ends when the fire burns out
- Where: 11277 OK-99, Seminole, OK 74868
- Enjoy hamburgers, hot dogs and refreshments while honoring our Star Spangled Banner.