TAYLOR COUNTY—From a young age, individuals are often taught to respect the American flag, learning the proper way to display it, that it should never touch the ground and how to properly salute it, but many folks may not know that there is a specific way to dispose of Old Glory once she’s past her prime.
The Boy Scouts of America understand the importance of the American Flag. The meaning behind the cloth is so crucial to them that the flag patch comes already embroidered on every uniform.
Respect for the flag can be seen through all aspects of scouting. In fact, every meeting or special ceremony begins with a flag ceremony and everyone pledging allegiance to the flag.
Respect for the flag shouldn’t stop there, though. When the flag has reached the end of its life, a meaningful retirement ceremony should follow.
Boy Scout Troop 6 recently met to honor American flags that had carried out their duty of being proudly displayed by patriotic residents. A Flag Retirement Ceremony was held at the Paradise Cove Community Building, located in Knottsville, on Tuesday evening.
During the event, scouts recited a script noting the importance of Old Glory, before hundreds of flags were properly disposed of.
Scoutmaster Rand Lewis shared that the flags were collected in the depository that was created by Troop 6 member Phillip Rager on his quest to become an Eagle Scout. The box was then placed outside of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 3081 building in June, and it quickly filled with flags.
“The VFW has emptied the box at least three times since it was placed,” said Lewis. “We will be holding additional Flag Retirement ceremonies in the future to ensure that those flags are properly honored and respected.”
A popular way to retire a worn-out American Flag is by burning it.
“A national flag that is worn beyond repair may be burned. The ceremony should be conducted with dignity and respect, and the flag burned completely to ashes,” said Scoutmaster Lewis.
Joined by the Taylor County Honor Guard, with colors posted, and members of the community, Troop 6 scouts, along with Cub Scout Pack 6 Webelos Scouts and members of the VFW Honor Guard, placed each flag into the fire.
As each flag met the flames, it was saluted, and the Pledge of Allegiance was recited as Old Glory was appropriately retired.
First Class Scout Christian Leard added to the ceremony by playing Taps, following the retirement of the flags.
“After the flag has been burned, the fire is extinguished. The ashes are then gathered and buried,” explained Scoutmaster Lewis.
During the event, over 200 flags were retired, before guests were treated to cookies and hot chocolate.
“We had well over 200 flags that we retired tonight,” said Scout Leader Garrett Lewis. “There are still more. We have numerous contractor bags of flags that have been donated by the community that we will need to retire, so there will definitely be more of these ceremonies in the future.”
Boy Scout Troop 6 has been helping shape and mold pre-teen boys for nearly 44 years, meeting the needs of young people within the community through mentoring, lifelong learning, faith traditions, healthy living and teaching the importance of serving others.
The troop is always ready to welcome new members, but those who would want to get a feeler for what Scouting has to offer, Lewis suggests attending a meeting before making the commitment.
The group traditionally meets at the Church of the Good Shepherd on Tuesdays, beginning at 6:30 p.m., but due to the Coronavirus disease, they have been meeting in the pavilion above Tygart Dam.
“Feel free to come and check us out and see what we are all about,” voiced Lewis. “We would love for you to become a member of this elite group of scouts.”
To find out more about scouting or to learn how to apply for the program, please contact Scoutmaster Lewis by phone at 304-657-9341.