DAPHNE, Alabama (WALA) - One Baldwin County funeral home has a new way to retire Americanflags and honor veterans at the same time. Hughes Cremation Centerand Funeral Services is now cremating old flags with honorablydischarged military veterans. The idea came from surfing theinternet one day and seeing that others around the country weredoing the same thing.
“I read about the article and then the very next day wehad a family come in and they brought their flag, folded,”said Benjie Hughes, owner of the funeral home. “They wantedtheir flag draped over their father to be cremated."
Since then, the idea has taken off and many old flags have beendonated.
The Stars and Stripes are a symbol of our freedom and a reminderof the sweat, blood and tears that it took to build this country.Just like us all, the flag has a life-span and every flag should bedecommissioned honorably. Hughes has been collecting old flags tohonor deceased veterans.
“We’re going to try and be very respectful in theway we do this, and I’m going to always ask the families ifthey’d like to have their loved-one, who’s a veteran,cremated with a retired American flag,” said Hughes.
Veterans like Daphne resident Horace Luckey love the idea.Luckey is 88-years-old and served in the U. S. Navy during WorldWar II. He was aboard the LST 779 at Iwo Jima. It was his vesselthat donated its Sunday Pennant (large ceremonial flag) which wasraised on Mt. Suribachi. Joe Rosenthal’s photo of Marineshoisting it made the flag famous. Old Glory means a great deal tohim.
“When it went up, pandemonium broke out in the harbor. Wewere all cheering and bells were ringing…whistles were goingoff,” recalled Luckey.
The idea of cremating a flag with a veteran was new to Luckey.Although not the traditional way to dispose of a worn flag, hethinks it’s a great idea.
“I think it’s a great thing,” Luckey said. "Imean, I had figured out something that I was going to get that donemyself, on my own, because I was seriously consideringcremation.”
The Hughes family has provided funeral and cremation services tomany veterans over the years. Families who opt for the PatrioticFlag Disposal Service still have the option to take home a brandnew American flag, just as with any traditional burial service. Sofar, public response has been overwhelming with over 30 flags beingbrought in just in the last three days.
To donate your old flag for a veteran, contact Hughes CremationCenter and Funeral Services by phone at 251-621-5890 or on the webat www.hughesfuneralservice.com.
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