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Dear Abby: I was wondering if you could print something about how to properly dispose of American flags. I’m a garbage man in northern Illinois, and I am sick of finding American flags in the trash. Most of my co-workers and I pull them out and properly dispose of them. Do people REALLY not realize what our flag means, and how many men and women have given their lives for what it stands for?

– Patriot Named Daniel

Dear Daniel: Your letter is timely. I’m sure the people you have described are not being intentionally disrespectful. I suspect the flags are thrown out because of ignorance. Readers, when an American flag becomes soiled, faded and tattered, there are better ways to dispose of it than tossing it in the garbage. According to the U.S. Flag Code, “When a flag has served its useful purpose, it should be destroyed, PREFERABLY BY BURNING.”

The pamphlet “Flag Etiquette” published by the American Legion states: “For individual citizens this should be done discreetly, so that the act is not perceived as a protest or desecration.”

Many American Legion posts conduct Disposal of Unserviceable Flag ceremonies on June 14, Flag Day, each year. The Boy and Girl Scouts of America also are able to conduct these ceremonies. When you are ready to dispose of yours, contact the local Boy or Girl Scout Council, or wait until the Girl Scout cookie sales start locally and offer the flag to the troop.

Be prudent with ring

Dear Abby: I’m a 50ish, never-married bachelor with a question about engagement rings. Do you recommend that the man go out and purchase a ring and then present it to the woman when he proposes, or do you think he should propose without a ring and then let her choose the ring she wants?

– Old Bachelor in Ohio

Dear Bachelor: When a man is ready to propose, it would be prudent for him to visit a jeweler and ask that some rings or stones in his price range be set aside. Then he can pop the question, and IF the woman says yes, take her to the jeweler to select something she would enjoy wearing. This will prevent an unpleasant and expensive surprise should the lady say no.

A burning question

Dear Abby: Is it tacky to reuse birthday candles? It seems silly to throw away candles that have been used for only a minute or two, but I know some people think it’s bad etiquette. What do you think?

– Madeline in Rio Rancho, N.M.

Dear Madeline: Most birthday cakes arrive at the table already lit. Some people reuse birthday candles if they haven’t burned down very far.