Boy Scout of America Troop 51 Conducts Memorial for Retired Flags
(Photo by Dave Cyphert of ProPoint Media Photography.)
The ceremony is a respectable way to retire worn out American flags that are no longer a fitting emblem of the display.
Burning is the preferred method of retiring the American flag, and after the ceremony, the ashes need to be disposed of in a dignified manner. In the past, scoutmasters would take the ashes and sprinkle them around the headstones of veterans who were buried in local cemeteries.
Last year Boyscout Troop Scoutmaster 51, Woody Whitling, had the idea to create a memorial to serve as the final resting place for all ashes from properly retired flags.
“When you get involved in an organization such as scouting, (there are) proper ways to retire a flag,” Whitling told exploreClarion.
“This whole idea came along when I had a vision last year,” Whitling explained.
“I contacted the Clarion Cemetery Association and I said what my idea was – ‘Why can’t there be a final resting place for the American flag, a symbol of the United States of America,’ and they agreed.”
Until the completion of this project, the scouts did not have a central place to rest the ashes of the flags.
Now the memorial along Second Avenue in the Clarion Cemetery will serve as the final resting place for the ashes thanks to many community members.
“Through the help of the Clarion Cemetery Association, Clarion VFW, and Clarion American Legion, and Borland Memorials in Leeper, the memorial was made true,” added Whitling.
The ceremony included prayers from Boy Scout Owen Wilson, speeches by U.S. Congressman Glenn (GT) Thompson and State Representative Donna Oberlander, as well as the retirement of one flag where the ashes were placed on the memorial symbolizing its dedication.
June 14 also serves as National Flag Day, a fact not lost upon Congressman GT Thompson.
“Today’s a special day, in 1777 the second continental congress established flag day,” Thompson said.
“What a symbol (the flag) is, this is a symbol we have in our classrooms, we fly over our courthouse, it’s one that we pledge our allegiance to, it’s one that is worn on the uniform of our military, our soldiers, our marines, our sailors, our airmen, our coastals as they go into battle.”
“It is also a symbol that we drape over the coffins of those fallen heroes,” Thompson added, saying that is why they must be properly retired.
“We don’t always think about how we should retire those (flags), as Americans, we don’t like to give up, so sometimes we fly them beyond a point of let’s just say disrepair, and old glory deserves better than that, the stars and stripes deserves better than that.”
State Representative Donna Oberlander was also given an opportunity to speak at the dedication ceremony.
“Two weeks ago was the 75th anniversary of D-Day. We had the opportunity to have ten of the World War Two veterans on the floor of the House Chamber, and I look at those gentlemen and I think of this flag, I think of the sacrifices that they made,” Oberlander said.
“I am humbled and grateful for this nation, we are so blessed.”
“When you look at that flag, I want you to think of the men, women, and those who have paid the ultimate price; those who have served with honor and distinction, and all of those, whether it was war or peacetime – their willingness to pay the ultimate price.”
The ceremony ended with the proper retirement of one flag, and the resting of its ashes symbolizing the dedication of the flag retirement memorial.
The remainder of the flag retirements will be held on Saturday, June 15 at 10:00 a.m. at the Clarion Moose Lodge. After the retirements, the ashes from these flags will be transported to the memorial at the Clarion Cemetery.
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