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VFW hosts annual flag burning ceremony at St. Henry's school

American Legion post no. 148 Commander Ronald Bjelland readies the flags for the burning ceremony at St. Henry's Thursday afternoon. Kaysey Price / Forum News Service1 / 5
St. Henry's kindergarteners watch flags burn while they wait in line to throw one in themselves at the flag burning ceremony Thursday afternoon. Kaysey Price / Forum News Service2 / 5
Tattered and worn flags sit at St. Henry's Thursday afternoon. They were burned at the Dent American Legion's flag burning ceremony. Kaysey Price / Tribune3 / 5
Gone but not forgotten, American Legion post no. 148 Commander Ronald Bjelland says a flag burning ceremony helps teach students the proper way to dispose of a worn out American flag. Kaysey Price / Forum News Service4 / 5
Students from St. Henry's and St. Peters attend the flag burning ceremony at St. Henry's Thursday afternoon. Kaysey Price / Forum News Service5 / 5

In spite of chilly winds Thursday afternoon, the Dent American Legion post no. 148 successfully held its annual flag burning ceremony at St. Henry's, allowing students from the school and students from St. Paul's Lutheran School to learn the proper way to dispose of American flags.

"When a flag becomes soiled or torn, faded or just looking bad, we like to have it turned over to an armed force agency such as the American Legion and, once they do, these flags are disposed of in a very honorable way," said Legion Commander Ronald Bjelland.

The American Legion has been holding the flag burning ceremony at St. Henry's for many years, said Bjelland, as far as he could remember, it's been at least 15 years. He says it's a great way to get the kids involved and teach patriotism.

The ceremony is a shortened and held in the afternoon, as the kids have to make it to their busses by the end of the day, but the kids really seem to enjoy it.

"The kids do enjoy this one," said Bjelland, adding that they do other ceremonies with the kids, too, like their POW/MIA recognition, which are also a hit.

St. Henry's third graders have been attending the ceremony for a few years, since they were in kindergarten. They patiently waited their turn to toss flags onto the fire on the chilly day. While they waited, they recalled seeing a torn flag in town and wondered if it had been taken down and was in the pile of flags to be properly disposed of.

St. Henry's kindergarteners had lit up faces standing in line to get a flag to dispose of, their first time attending the ceremony.

Shortened, Bjelland says, the ceremony still covered the bases, beginning with an introduction from Bjelland and a prayer from American Legion Chaplain Frank Wines.

"We do just like they do at a funeral. We have people firing," said Bjelland, adding that an American Legion member plays taps as well before the flags are burned.

Perham Fire Fighter Vance Bachmann was in attendance as well, making sure the flames didn't get out of hand with the heavy winds, but all went well.

"It went really good," said Bjelland, happy for another successful ceremony. "It was smooth this year other than it was a little cooler than normal."

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