West Orange ceremony retires U.S. flag dear to Orange resident

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WEST ORANGE, NJ — Daniel Collins, of Orange, sat in a quiet moment of reflection before a flag-retirement ceremony held at West Orange fire headquarters on Valley Road on June 14. The flag that had been draped over the casket of his father Winfred Collins, a Korean War veteran was publicly displayed for the final time. Collins wanted to honor his father, who died in August 2006, by officially retiring the flag at the annual West Orange ceremony. The flag had become damaged following a storm and sat in a partially flooded basement before being discovered. Collins is a retired Newark police officer with 17 years of service and said that his father, Winfred Collins, rarely talked about his military service.

Glennon/Sayers VFW Post No. 376 Commander Kim Ameli, who was joined at the ceremony by several other VFW members, spoke briefly at the ceremony about the symbolism of the American flag. Ameli also paid homage to West Orange resident and U.S. Army veteran Pete Longo, who was not present, but is West Orange’s last surviving World War II veteran; Longo will turn 100 years old in November. 

Winfred Collins’ flag was then ordered lowered from the flagpole by West Orange Fire Chief Anthony Vecchio, who hosted the ceremony. The flag was folded and given a proper salute by those in attendance as it was walked over to the firepit, where it would be officially retired, by Firefighter Anthony Loreto. Proper flag etiquette dictates that when a flag is worn out and no longer fit to serve as a symbol of the United States, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner. 

The West Orange ceremony is an annual event that is held on Flag Day at West Orange fire headquarters each June 14.

Photos Courtesy of Joseph Fagan