A New York City garbageman who has saved more than 700 American flags from the dump over the last year gave the pennants a respectful sendoff over the weekend.
Ed Shevlin, 57, started collecting the trashed flags — many of which were damaged in Hurricane Sandy — about a year ago when he first pulled two tattered ones from the back of his truck.
"The flag deserves more than a place in the hopper of the sanitation truck," he told CBS New York
. "So many people have died for this flag. So many people have been willing to give their lives for this flag. That stands for so much more than any other symbol we have in this country."
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Shevlin finally disposed of his flag fleet Saturday during a burning ceremony at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y. Burning is the only proper way to dispose of the American flag.
"I view the flags not just as pieces of fabric with a pretty pattern on it . . . I view them as dead soldiers," Shevlin told the New York Daily News.
"I view them as an entity that has served the country, that served the people who lived within the house where the flag flies. I think that after the flag is all beaten up and faded and torn, it should be given a respectful retirement."
Veterans also contributed to Shevlin's flag collection. John Arandi, a 66-year-old Vietnam veteran, brought him more than 100.
"It’s very important," Arandi told the Daily News of Shevlin's campaign. "If you ask any veteran, we served the country and we serve the flag."
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