Campbell: American Legion Post 99 collects worn-out American flags
When American Legion West Valley Memory Post 99 ran a brief in this newspaper advertising its willingness to properly dispose of worn-out American flags, members had no idea of the overwhelming response they would receive.
"It just went through the roof," said a spokesperson for American Legion. "It was a flood and it just kept going."
Hundreds of people responded to the American Legion Post 99's request.
The legion had teamed up with Willow Street Pizza, which donated 100 coupons for free pizzas. The legion, in turn, gave the coupons to the first 100 people who brought in an old American flag.
The legion ran out of coupons within a couple of days.
"It was unbelievable," adding that some people brought in three or four flags. They stopped counting the flags after they hit the 600 mark.
"Evidently, people don't know where to take their flags. They know it's not supposed to go in the garbage but don't know the right thing to do.".
One person brought in a flag from the 1920s that had only 48 stars. That was from before Alaska and Hawaii became states.
More than half a ton of flags were taken to the Bay Area Mortuary Services on Stone Ave. in San Jose.
The flags are held at the crematorium until a deceased veteran is ready to be cremated. The Post Commander reflected "To me, that's the most honorable thing to do, in terms of following the last wishes of a veteran." "The same flag that they served in life accompanies them in death."
The legion installed a permanent flag drop-off on the side of its building, located at 1344 Dell Ave. in Campbel.
A few years ago, the organization acquired a mailbox that the post office wasn't planning to use any more, said Lee Turcotte. Last summer, a 13-year-old Boy Scout even took the mailbox home and painted it red, white and blue to earn volunteer hours, according to Daraius Sorabji, scoutmaster of Boy Scout Troop 330.
"Once he was done with it, it looked real good," said Randy Klingborg, chartered organizational representative, who serves as a middleman between the Boy Scouts of America and the American Legion. (Boy Scout Troop 330 has been sponsored by American Legion Post 99 for more than a decade.)
Turcotte said many legions accept worn out American flags. He said Post 99 has always accepted them but having a mailbox now makes the process easier.
The Post Commander believes it's every American citizen's responsibility to see that the flag is treated in a respectful way when being disposed of. He said that the community's recent rousing response to the legion's request showed the community's patriotism.
Those who have old American flags they wish to dispose of can bring their flags to the mailbox at 1344 Dell Ave. any time.
For more information, contact the America Legion Post 99 at 408.379.6420.