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Sonoma VFW will retire flags, go to Petaluma parade

Sonoma’s Veterans of Foreign Wars post is celebrating Veterans Day differently this year in effort to encourage Valley residents to go to the major celebration in Petaluma.

The VFW, with help from local Boy Scouts, will host a flag retirement ceremony at 10 a.m. on Monday, Nov. 11, in front of the flagpole at the Sonoma Valley Veterans Memorial Building. VFW Commander Dan Parker said the group is shortening its normal celebration so that attendees can make it over to the North Bay Veterans Day Parade at 1 p.m. in downtown Petaluma. “This is a huge event, with thousands of veterans in attendance, and we want all of the veterans in the area to go and be united,” Parker said.

Instead of the usual ceremonies, which have spotlighted local veterans from certain wars and included lunch at Vintage House senior center, Parker said the group will retire old flags in a similar ceremony to one he saw last year. “I’ve wanted to do this for a long time,” Parker said. “We’re getting swamped with flags.”

Parker said most people stick their old flags in a bag or in the garage and then forget about them, not knowing how to properly dispose of a flag. There’s one flag retirement ceremony, he explained, in which the star field is cut out and each stripe is taken apart in order to “make a flag not a flag.”

The VFW will retire one flag on Veterans Day, performing “a patriotic ceremony,” where the flag to be retired is raised one last time before being divided into quarters.

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