A piece of colored cloth, sewn together in a red, white and blue design that hangs or blows in the wind describes the U.S. flag. Men and woman have given their lives for it, fought for it, cried for it, and revered it as a symbol for the greatest country on Earth. But when a flag has served its usefulness and no longer is suitable to represent our country, it must be retired and replaced.
Eureka-Wildwood Boy Scout Troop 456 recently held a flag retirement ceremony in which they retired approximately 50 flags of varying sizes and conditions.
The importance of this act, and the pride and emotions that it evokes make it a very powerful event that can serve as a reminder of national pride and help instill the values brought forth in developing good citizenship in youth.
In general, the steps to retiring a flag are:
- Gather and raise flag on the pole or staff or hold it aloft by hand.
- Call the group to attention, salute and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.
- The leader might say something like: "This flag has served its nation well and long. It is now worn to a condition in which it should no longer be used to represent the nation. We pay honor to this flag for the service it has rendered."
- Fold the flag according to proper procedures.
- Burn the flag until it is completely consumed.
- Some groups hum, sing, play or perform soft patriotic music in the background.
An alternative flag retiring process calls for keeping the flag off the ground while cutting the stars out of the canton. Then one cuts the stripes apart. With dignity, the flag parts then are put into the fire.
Troop 456, dubbed "The Mountain Man Troop," annually holds flag retirement ceremonies. For any tattered, faded or torn flags, of any size or condition, that need to be properly retired, contact any adult leader, including scoutmaster and city council member Ron James, Ward 6. More information about Troop 456 is available by clicking here.The troop has existed more than 35 years; it currently consists of 60 members.