Just the Facts

Some things just go together – like Moon Pies and American flags

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Dan Finnerty

While many of us have heard of a Moon Pie, most do not realize that the treat began in 1917 in nearby Chattanooga, Tenn., where it is still made today. A Chattanooga Bakery traveling salesman came up with the invention when coal miners he visited expressed a desire for “something for their lunchpails that would be filling and taste good.”

Fast forward to 2023. Chattanooga Bakery began its Patriotic Pies school fundraiser. More than 65,000 pies were donated to help lift the spirits of soldiers at Fort Campbell, Ky. Initially, deliveries only included the states of Kentucky and Tennessee. However, in 2024, North Carolina got in on the effort, with American Legion Commander Robert Seibert, Hayesville Post 532, leading the way for the Western North Carolina area. 

“It is amazing how something as simple as a Moon Pie can make a difference in a service member’s day,” said Siebert. He added, “Veterans understand the life of military men and women … Veterans know the lonely feeling of being away from their family.”

American Legion posts across the state have raised funds for Patriotic Pies to be delivered to Camp Lejeune (Marine Corps), Fort Bragg (Army), and Seymour Johnson Air Base (Air Force). In coordination with the Moon Pie company, American Legion retrieved and then delivered 20,808 Patriotic Pies to service members.  

“This is one of the ways we can say, ‘Thank You’ and show our support to our current service members,” added Siebert.

Locally, Franklin-based American Legion Post 108 participated in the delivery process this year. Members Jack and Doreen Castle helped Post 532 members from Hayesville, using a donated truck from U-Haul in Chattanooga. 

AMERICAN LEGION Post 108 and 828Vets collaborated on a flag exchange and disposal June 15 in downtown Franklin at Appalachian ACE Hardware.

“The fundraiser was designed for the folks back home in local communities to be able to share in a small way that they are thinking of our service members and to share something special to remind them of home,” said Jack Castle. “All of this is to show that citizens and veterans across the state [of North Carolina] appreciate our nation’s military … That is why I was honored to be part of the fundraiser and delivery.”

Flag exchange and disposal 

In another example of the Macon County community stepping up in in a show of patriotism, American Legion Post 108 and 828Vets collaborated on a flag exchange and disposal June 15 in downtown Franklin. According to 828Vet’s Alan Anderson, approximately 26 people visited the flag exchange site at Appalachian Ace Hardware starting at 10 a.m. In total, 26 3-foot by 5-foot flags and one 2-foot by 4-foot flag were given out.

Many individuals who came to exchange their flags expressed appreciation for members of 828Vets who staffed the table and helped with the exchange process. 

“Several people were happy that 828Vets was providing not only replacement flags but also an avenue to bring their worn flags for proper retirement,” expressed Anderson. “Most were not aware that the American Legion provides that service to all of Franklin.” 

After the flag exchange concluded, 828Vets’ member Gregory Hunt transported 40 old exchanged flags just down the road from Ace Hardware to the American Legion Post 108 site for disposal.

The American Legion’s tradition of proper disposal of the U.S. flag began in 1937. A resolution was established for a ceremony to honorably retire unserviceable U.S. flags. 

GREG CHURCH, with son Greyson and daughter Lennox, was given a new flag during the June 15 flag exchange and disposal event.

The ceremony’s purpose is to encourage respect for the flag and to provide a dignified way to dispose of it. The most common method of disposal is by burning, as stated in the U.S. Flag Code, which considers the flag a living entity with the right to expire with dignity. However, burning the flag in an undignified way is considered desecration. 

While the ceremonial flag disposal process has been going on much longer, 828Vets began their flag exchange in 2023. Initially, it was held for Veterans Day (Nov. 11) but member Starr Henderson relayed that in addition to the recent exchange for Flag Day (June 14), “We will do another one Veterans Day 2024 before the downtown ceremony and parade. Plans are to do these exchanges on Flag Day and Veterans Day as far as we can plan out, Lord willing.”

Regarding other flag-related information, American Legion Post 108 in Franklin’s website also lists special days a flag should be displayed, how a flag should be folded, and the symbolic reasons why a flag is folded 13 times. Visit https://maconpost108franklinnc.org/index.php?id=12.  

Pictured top: AMERICAN LEGION Post 108 Members Jack and Doreen Castle (center) of Franklin helped American Legion Post 532 members from Hayesville, using a donated truck from U-Haul in Chattanooga, Tenn., to get Moon Pies to N.C. servicemen.