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Inspired by a suggestion from a local American Legion commander, Howard County's Alpha Ridge Landfill has launched a new effort to collect and dispose of worn American flags.

Ed Hall, the commander of the American Legion's Adams, Hanna, Moore Memorial Post 156 in Ellicott City, came up with the idea to start a collection box at the landfill after he saw some residents trying to throw away American flags there.

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"I knew that we could do a better job to educate people about the correct disposal and give them an easier way to comply," Hall said.

According to a flag etiquette guide from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the proper way to dispose of the Stars and Stripes is to fold the flag and burn it completely. The guide recommends offering a salute and reciting the Pledge of Allegiance as it burns.

Under the new Alpha Ridge program, American Legion Post 156 members will periodically gather old and used American flags left inside a designated box in the residential recycling area of the landfill and then join with local Boy Scout troops to hold a disposal ceremony for them.

"On Veterans Day, there are so many ways that we honor the military members who protect our freedoms," Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman said in a statement. "In this case, local veterans recently spoke up to make sure that the symbol of their efforts, the American flag, is treated with respect and dignity."

For more information, visit http://www.howardcountymd.gov/arl.htm.

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