Two years ago, Vietnam veteran Tom Cartino approached the Southampton Town Board with disturbing news — while working at the town's transfer station, he had found numerous American flags among debris. While many of the flags were torn and tattered, he said they were not being properly disposed of.
The information prompted the town to start a flag disposal program.
Now, it its second year, Southampton Councilman Chris Nuzzi, who was on hand at the Flag Day celebration last weekend to talk about the program, says since its inception, the program has collected 6,500 flags, including five with 48 stars and two with 45 stars.
The town partnered with local VFW posts to properly dispose of the flags, according to Nuzzi. And Boy Scouts have also participated. There are drop boxes for flags at and town waste transfer stations.
"According to employees in the town's Waste Management Division, the idea has caught on, with tourists asking how to take the idea home and begin similar projects," Nuzzi said.
Celebrating Flag Day, which was established on June 14, 1777, by the Second Continental Congress, Nuzzi is urging all residents to re-commit to "displaying, maintaining and retiring 'Old Glory' in the appropriate way."
He said, "We must combat disregard even more so than desecration. If the flag is a symbol of American virtue, taking it for granted will, over time, deteriorate the very love of liberty needed for its survival."