A New York sanitation worker is pledging the ultimate allegiance to the American flag, rescuing torn and tattered banners from the garbage heap.

Ed Shevlin, a sanitation worker from Rockaway Park, has been collecting flags that were thrown away so he can dispose of them in a more respectful manner, CBS New York reported.

Shevlin, 53, told the station he began rescuing the flags he found in the garbage – big and small ones – and folding them in preparation for disposal in a respectful ceremony where they will be burned.

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According to Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Code:

“The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise”; and  “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

Shevlin, who has been carrying more than 700 flags in his car, says he disposes of the flags because it’s the right thing to do.

“So many people have died for this flag. So many people have been willing to give their lives for this flag,” he told CBS New York. “That stands for so much more than any other symbol we have in this country.”

The flags, many of which were destroyed by superstorm Sandy, were given a formal send-off Saturday in a solemn ceremony held at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., Newsday reported.

Click for the story from CBS News.