United States law has specific rules for disposing of American flags that have been worn out in service. They are intended to ensure that the flag is treated with dignity and shown the respect that those who have died in its service are entitled to.
Crozet’s Boy Scout Troop 79 conducted a solemn flag retirement ceremony at Crozet United Methodist Church (where the troop holds its meetings) August 19 that conformed to the letter and spirit of the law.
The ceremony was organized by Chris Carmagnola, who is working on a communications badge, and supported by the rest of the troop. Forty-eight faded and torn flags from around Crozet were collected and sorted into two groups, cotton ones that could be burned and nylon ones that were shipped later to a flag manufacturing company that offers retirement procedures for unburnable fabrics. One flag had flown at the Crozet Post Office.
Scouts carefully folded each flag into a tucked, tricorner bundle once its condition was inspected.
Retired Navy Captain J.R. Sanders, in brief remarks to the troop, described the flag’s meaning as our national symbol—a banner that unites Americans of all colors, creeds and ethnic backgrounds as one people—and described various ways it is suitably flown, worn and saluted. It is also used to cover the caskets of veterans and first responders, such as at Bubba Baber’s recent funeral. “It is recognized around the world as the symbol of the American way of life,” said Sanders. “May we never forget the sacrifices these flags represent,” he said, “and never fail to serve the nation they stand for.”
Flags were solemnly brought forward individually to a fire pit where they were unfolded with dignity and carefully laid in the flames.
Troop 79, under the leadership of Scoutmaster Gary Conley, has 38 scouts, 10 of whom are working toward Eagle rank.
“I strongly encourage scouts to perform this ceremony every couple of years,” said Carmagnola afterward. “It’s very solemn and the Boy Scouts are about the only ones doing it.”