HAMPDEN, Maine — The stars and stripes represent our values of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
The flag is a symbol that many feel deserves respect but dozens of flags in the state of Maine have instead been discarded like trash.
There's a proper way to retire the American flag when it gets worn, ripped, or tattered, but improperly disposing of it in the trash is not one of those ways.
The Coastal Resources of Maine’s Fiberight facility said it’s seeing a lot of flags in the trash, though, and making their way to the plant.
So, Fiberight employees have made it their mission to rescue these flags and give them a proper retirement.
Fiberight management and employees are being joined by Hampden’s V.F.W. and Boy Scout Troop 41 for a ceremony Wednesday at the town office to honor and retire more than 50 American flags that have been taken out of the trash since the Fourth of July.
As the flags are discovered by Fiberight employees going through the assembly line, they are taken out by hand and hung over the railings up high on the line.
They started being noticed by one employee, recycling technician Heather Bishop, shortly after the July Fourth holiday.
"I think it's pretty exciting because we're going to actually retire the flags the way they should be, in a respectable way,” Bishop said.
"I mean, this is a no brainer,” said Shelby Wright, Fiberight’s director of community services. “This is the symbol of our country and it doesn't deserve to be discarded in the trash."
So on this 9/11, a day that will never be forgotten in American history, these proud Americans are looking to change the fate of these stars and stripes.
"I'm happy about it because this way I can put the flag right where it's in view for everyone to see because I'm a proud American,” added Bishop.
"Sept. 11 means so much to our country,” Wright said. “I mean, it was a day of great tragedy, but it was also a day of great resilience and much like the flag, these flags are the most resilient. They've been through the ringer. They've been through the trash. They've been through the equipment and thanks to the staff and the workers here and the environmental techs here at Coastal Resources, they're going to get a proper retirement which is what they deserve."
Wright added that she hopes this is the first and only flag ceremony of its kind that Fiberight will need to hold.