Reynoldsburg News

Retirement ceremony

Scouts properly dispose of more than 700 American flags

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The tattered remnants of Old Glory were put to rest with a flag-retirement ceremony in Reynoldsburg last week.

Boy Scout Troop 826, which has members from Reynoldsburg, Pickerington and East Columbus, conducted ceremony according to the edicts of the federal flag code, properly disposing of more than 700 flags June 12 at Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9473, 1420 Waggoner Road.

Parent Sandra Puet said the proper way to retire a damaged American flag is to burn it.

"These are not whole flags -- they are tattered, torn and faded," she said. "The appropriate way to retire them is to burn them on a natural fire and allow the fire to die by itself. The Scouts take all the metal rivets out so that nothing is left of the flag."

She said the rivets are given back to VFW Post members and that many are given out to veterans.

"Many organizations that deal with veterans have rivets on key chains to represent a person who has died during military service," she said.

She said the Boy Scouts were dressed in their "A" uniforms, which are khaki and green.

"This is a yearly tradition of the troop since its beginning almost 20 years ago," Puet said. "Flags are burned the Wednesday closest to Flag Day, which was June 14."

She said about 70 boys are active in the troop. About 20 were present for the flag retirement ceremony.

Dale Luger, committee chairman for the troop, said the ceremony typically retires from 500 to 750 flags per year.

"The VFW collects the flags and most of the families in the troop, including mine, collect damaged flags from people they know," he said. "It is every American citizen's responsibility to request a tattered flag be brought down and retired.

"In the old days, if a tattered flag was flown over a fort or any place, people would think the unit had been abandoned. You are never supposed to fly a torn or damaged flag," he said.

He said Boy Scout troops have been involved in maintaining American flags for more than 100 years.

"Our troop is attached to a VFW unit, which gives us an opportunity to teach our young people about flag retirement and patriotic issues and also what our veterans have done for our country," he said.

"The VFW guys come out and interact with our boys. Adolescents don't always get the opportunity to involve themselves in patriotic issues but it is something they should learn at a young age."

He said a 16-year-old member of the troop, Kyle Miller, is working on an Eagle Scout project that involves veterans.

"Kyle is working to interview and archive the stories of 1,000 World War II veterans," he said. "The day before our flag retirement, Kyle did a speech in Pataskala about his project."

Miller's website is called voicesfromthefront.org.

Puet said the troop has helped do highway cleanup along U.S. Route 40 and has volunteered at many different city festivals and at Clean Up Reynoldsburg days.

"We love our kids," she said. "We think scouting is a worthwhile organization where kids learn leadership. The troop is driven by its members. The boys decide what goes on and the adults try to make it happen."

Luger said people may contact the VFW or any Boy Scout troop if they have a flag to donate to next year's flag-retirement ceremony.

VFW Post 9473 has a website at vfwpost9473.org. The phone number is 614-861-3891.

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