Monday, September 1, 2008

Retirement Flag Burning Ceremony

This morning to wrap up our Labor Day Weekend camping with Kyle's family in Columbus, Kyle and his Uncle did a short retirement flag burning ceremony. None of the cub/boy scouts have been in long enough to know how they were supposed to do it, and it had been so long for the older folk they did it their way. I did a little research today and it looks like when a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country it should be destroyed in a dignified manner. There were some words spoken by Kyle's cousin while the flag was being stretched out above the fire by Kyle and his Uncle, and one of the boy scouts (Kyle's cousin Josh who is 13) played the trumpet. Everyone was silent with respect. The flag was held until it was completely caught in flames so no parts of the flag would touch the ground. There was a short prayer and then silence after the flag was placed completely in the fire so that the grommets could be retrieved so they could be buried after the flag had burned and all that remained was ashes. It was a short but beautiful ceremony and I don't think that there was a dry eye that left that camp fire this morning. It makes me very proud to be with a man who has served our country, and wake up every morning knowing he will fight the same way for our family to keep us safe, as he did for our country. The food was wonderful this weekend, the fellowship was great, and the prayers were so moving I couldn't help but cry over my food during Grace each morning and night. God talks to everyone, and this weekend I felt as if He was talking directly to me.


Alan said...

I have seen a few retirements, including within our own Cub Scouts. Always by fire.

Some have cut the flag before hand in strips while keeping the union untouched for final retirement.

The most important is in a dignify manner.

Last year when our Den retired the flag from their school - it was flown one last time at camp and remained flying into the sunset and lowered with full honors shortly thereafter.

The boys then folded the flag with the union fully protected (reverse) and they all protected the flag like it was life or death.

The formal announcement basically stated that having served our Country this flag is no longer in a condition that is fitting emblem for display and having flown into the setting sun is hereby presented for retirement in accordance with US Law and the policy of the Boy Scouts of America.

The Scouts did break policy in allowing the Cub Scouts to place the flag unto the fire. For safety reasons, we were told that BSA does not permit Cub Scouts from placing items directly onto fire or grills (safety first); however, these kids, were going to protect that flag and not allow anyone to do the honors, except the color guard.

Once the announcement was complete the Scouts saluted and the flag was placed onto the fire and gone in a manner of seconds. Once placed on the fire the Scouts discontinued the salute and stood silently like all of us. (It is a moving experience to retire a flag.)

I really liked the fact of not seeing the union portion of the flag burn as it really showed how the 13 colonies protected the idea of our Country as it exist today.

After the retirement it was announced that no further items could be placed on the fire. In the morning the Grommets were removed from the ashes and one was presented to the School Veteran who arranged for the replacement of the flag and the other to the Den Leader for their service.

Thank you all for your service to the Community and more to your Country. The most important factor in the retirement was quick and with dignity and you all did both and also with honors by removing your hats.