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Harford Funeral home, Legion posts team up to retire flags

Edsel Spellman, left, who installed the boxes and Ed McCann, Commander of the Patrick Dailey-Mark Logsdon Memorial Service Post 17, stand with the new flag box installed at Edgewood Legion. Both McCann and Spellman are also employees of McComas Funeral Homes and were instrumental in establishing the Flag Retirement program.
Edsel Spellman, left, who installed the boxes and Ed McCann, Commander of the Patrick Dailey-Mark Logsdon Memorial Service Post 17, stand with the new flag box installed at Edgewood Legion. Both McCann and Spellman are also employees of McComas Funeral Homes and were instrumental in establishing the Flag Retirement program. (Matt Button / The Aegis / Baltimore Sun)

Howard McComas, owner of McComas Funeral Home in Abingdon, said he was asked recently by someone in the community: "What do we do with our American flag after it has become tattered?"

That question prompted McComas, with help from local American Legion posts, to find a viable solution: a collection box for old and worn American flags.

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"I had seen something similar to this in other parts of the country and saw a need for it in our community," McComas said Wednesday, the day after the traditional observance of Flag Day.

The Bel Air American Legion Post 39 on Hickory Avenue and the Patrick Dailey-Mark Logsdon Memorial Service Post 17 on Edgewood Road in Edgewood now have flag boxes in front of their locations for folks in the community to properly dispose of their worn AMerican Flags.
The Bel Air American Legion Post 39 on Hickory Avenue and the Patrick Dailey-Mark Logsdon Memorial Service Post 17 on Edgewood Road in Edgewood now have flag boxes in front of their locations for folks in the community to properly dispose of their worn AMerican Flags. (Matt Button / The Aegis / Baltimore Sun)

McComas Funeral Home and American Legion posts' officials met to discuss how to implement the flag retirement program.

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Mailboxes were purchased from a mailbox supply company and an American flag wrap was placed on them by the local company, Big House Signs, in Havre de Grace.

The boxes were installed a few weeks ago at Bel Air American Legion Post 39 on Hickory Avenue and the Patrick Dailey-Mark Logsdon Memorial Service Post 17 on Edgewood Road in Edgewood by Edsel Spellman.

"Folks can just pull up out front and place their old flag in the box and we take care of it from there," Post 17 Commander Ed McCann said. "Within a week after it was installed, I had to empty the box. It was so full you couldn't even put another flag in there."

Southampton Middle School seventh-grader Kelly Schramm knows about the meaning of Memorial Day.

After the flags are collected they are taken to the funeral home, where they are stored at its Memorial Center.

"When able and with the family's permission, a flag will be cremated with a veteran to show the proper honor to both the flag and the veteran," McComas said.

Other Legion and VFW posts in Harford County have expressed interest in having one of the boxes placed at their sites, he said.

A hearty group of 60 to 70 volunteers of all ages braved the elements Saturday afternoon to place hundreds memorial wreaths on the graves of veterans in Bel Air Memorial Gardens.

"We hope to serve two purposes with the program: to properly dispose of the American flag while at the same time providing the additional honor that the veteran has earned through their service," he said.



Harford County’s “Choose Civility” campaign kicked off with a breakfast event at the Water’s Edge Events Center in Belcamp on Wednesday.

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