Orange American Legion holding May events to honor veterans

  • American Legion Post 172 at 40 Daniel Shays Highway in Orange. STAFF PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

  • Eagle Scout Matthew Regnier stands beside one of the former mailboxes he converted into a flag drop-off box at South Cemetery off of South Main Street in Orange in November 2020. Unusable flags may be placed in this box or the one at American Legion Post 172 on Daniel Shays Highway. Flags will be burned in a respectful retirement ceremony on May 16. STAFF FILE PHOTO/PAUL FRANZ

Staff Writer
Published: 5/4/2021 5:54:34 PM

ORANGE — The Orange American Legion Post 172 plans to hold a handful of events this month to honor those who have served their country in uniform.

The post’s annual poppy drive at the Walmart Supercenter is scheduled for 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on May 6, 7 and 13, and donations will be collected to support the organization’s veterans programs. The district meeting and flag retirement ceremony are slated for May 16, and American flags will be placed on veterans’ graves at the South and Central cemeteries on May 29.

Deb Barber, president of Orange American Legion Auxiliary Unit 172, said these events are held because it is important to remember the sacrifices that have been made for the United States.

“If it wasn’t for our veterans, we would not have the freedoms that we do now,” she said. “People look forward to the poppies being done.”

Barber noted her husband, Leo, is an Army veteran who served in the Vietnam War.

The Orange American Legion has held its poppy drive for years, and it has been in front of the Walmart Supercenter since it opened, though it was canceled last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, Barber explained.

The poppy became the official flower of the American Legion family on Sept. 27, 1920, to memorialize service members who were killed in war. The American Legion Auxiliary Poppy Program started in 1921.

The May 16 district flag retirement ceremony is the Orange American Legion’s way of respectfully burning tattered, unusable flags once a year. According to the U.S. Flag Code, flags that are no longer serviceable “should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” People can place flags into converted mailboxes near the maintenance building at South Cemetery or at American Legion Post 172 at 40 Daniel Shays Highway. The drop-off boxes were converted by Wendell resident Matthew Regnier, who installed the units last year as part of his service project to reach the rank of Eagle Scout.

Anyone willing to help place flags at graves on May 29 is asked to meet at 40 Daniel Shays Highway at 8:45 a.m. According to Barber, the goal is to not miss any veteran’s grave, though some do not have a veteran marker.

“If anyone puts a flag on a grave, we try not to remove them. We tie a string on the flag that tells us not to remove that flag when we pick up the flags after Memorial Day,” Barber explained in a press release. “We will replace any worn or tattered flags and place a string on them.”

Anyone who notices a veteran’s grave that was missed should call 978-544-6023 to inform Orange American Legion Post 172 of the veteran’s name and which cemetery the grave is in.

Reach Domenic Poli at: or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.

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