CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) -- The city of Chicago burned thousands of American flags on Friday during a ceremony on the South Side.
Police officers, firefighters and active duty and retired members of the military gathered for the ceremony described as the largest of its kind.
Former Alderman James Balcer, a retired Marine, said there were 15,000 tattered flags that were being properly disposed of in a large hole dug in an empty lot at 45th and Halsted.
This was the 13th year of the ceremony.
Fire Commissioner Richard Ford described proper flag disposal.
“We treat this flag with respect. We treat this flag with dignity. It is part of our core. It is part of our history. It is part of our future. We return these flags to the origin of everything on our planet, the earth, itself," Ford said.
"I join with others present here today in flesh and in spirit, who salute these flags for the service they have rendered as a symbol to our nation that will ever be recognized around the world as the great flag of the United States of America."
Flares were thrown into the pit and the flags went up in flames, thick black smoke wafting on the breeze and obscuring flags flying above the lot.