- Associated Press - Sunday, March 8, 2015

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A Middle Tennessee funeral home has begun offering to retire old flags with veterans who are cremated.

The Leaf-Chronicle (https://leafne.ws/1GNIoeK) reports Sykes Funeral Home in Clarksville is the first in Middle Tennessee to offer the Veterans Funeral Care Flag Retirement Program.

Owner Stewart Sykes says the decision to offer the service was easy to make. He said the business is located near the sprawling Fort Campbell Army post on the Tennessee-Kentucky line where more than 30,000 soldiers and civilians are based.

“Fort Campbell is our next-door neighbor, and this is another way we can serve the post and demonstrate our commitment to veterans’ needs,” Sykes said.

He started offering the program after an employee told him about it and he contacted the man who started it: Veterans Funeral Care owner Jim Rudolph Jr. in Tampa, Florida.

Rudolph, whose father was a paratrooper in World War II, said veterans’ needs are important to him and he’s been overwhelmed at the responses he has gotten since starting the program more than a decade ago.

“I know about the strict rules for disposing of a U.S. flag. The flag must be burned, not tossed into the kitchen garbage can,” Rudolph said. “I also know that many veterans are opting to be cremated rather than buried in a cemetery, even a veteran’s cemetery.

“It occurred to me that by placing a U.S. flag over the body of a veteran to be cremated, it would be a final tribute to both the veteran and the flag. To me, it is the final patriotic duty of the flag to be cremated with a veteran.”

Sykes said there’s no extra charge for the service.

“These flags are donated to Sykes and other funeral homes across the country that take part in this program. If someone has a flag that is no longer in good condition, donate the flag to us, and we will insure that it becomes the shroud that covers a veteran who is cremated.”


Information from: The Leaf-Chronicle, https://www.theleafchronicle.com

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