U.S. Flag Retirment ceremony
Calvin H. Gray (405geezer@IGG-TX.NET)
Wed, 30 Jul 1997 09:43:40 -0400
This is the ceremony used by Eagle Scout Neal Carlton during our troop
meeting on October 14, 1996, to retire a large American flag. Neal's
Eagle Service Project was featured in the May-June issue of "Scouting"
The federal flag code enacted by a joint resolution of Congress July 7,
1976, provides that the flag, when it is in such condition that it is no
longer a fitting emblem for display, sould be destroyed in a dignified
way, preferably by burning.
During my Eagle Scout Project, I collected 466 flags for retirement.
Today, nine of my fellow Scouts from Troop 405 spent over five hours
burning 464 of those flags.
I hold in my hands a flag given me for retirement by an older couple
from Georgetown who indicated that this 48-star flag was given to them
by the United States Government when their cousin was killed during
World War II during the invasion of Normandy in June, 1944. This flag
honors the life of George Herbert Plate, age 31, a member of the U.S.
Army's 80th Division who was killed at Falise Gap when the allies
surrounded 100,000 German soldiers. Rather than burn this flag for
retirment, I have received permission to donate it to the Fort Hood
The large 30 foot by 40 foot U.S. flag you see before you was brought to
our meeting tonight so that all members of Troop 405 may participate in
its retirement. Each of its 50 stars measure 18 inches high and each of
its stripes measure two and a half feet wide. It will serve as a symbol
of the 464 other flags burned earlier today.
We are here to pay special tribute to our beautiful American flag.
Perhaps I should say that we are here to rededicate ourselves to the
flag - for the stars and stripes of the United States retains its
strength of character through our loyalty.
When we express love for the flag of our country we are honoring those
who fought in defense of the God given rights upon which American
democracy and our great republic were founded - the freedoms which we
enjoy and our flag represents. We rededicate ourselves to the
principles set forth in the Declaration of Independence, in the United
States Constitution and in the Bill of Rights. The flag of our nation
symbolizes those principles - the freedom to live, speak, worship and to
progress according to our own wills and abilities.
This occasion has special significance because our troops have carried
the stars and stripes into battle in many foreign lands, on hostile seas
and against enemy air forces around the globe.
We have seen many men sacrifice their lives in defense of our flag. We
have draped the coffins of those comrads with the stars and stripes as a
token of our respect. Above their graves we keep the stars and stripes
waving proudly as a continuing tribute to their courage and sacrifice.
The red in our nation's emblem is made brilliant by the heroism of our
fighting men; the white becomes more stainlessly pure because of the
high motives which impelled them; and the blue in the starry field is
made more beautiful by the services which our war veterans performed to
keep intact, for all of us, the American way of life.
Our way of life has not been gained cheaply. A million or more
Americans have sacrificed their lives since the birth of this nation.
Thousands of others suffer disabilities today - because they had the
courage to fight for freedom. These are the thoughts we should keep in
mind as we pledge allegiance to the flag - and as we sing our National
Anthem - The Star Spangled Banner.
Finally we say - thank Gop we are Americans. Thank God we are the
fortunate people who may think and speak and worship freely - without
fear - under the stars and stripes.
That is why we rededicate ourselves to the high ideals this flag
represents. Through our everlasting devotion and courage we shall
always keep it flying as the proud and beautiful symbol of freedom,
dignity and opportunity in a less than perfect world.
Please join me in saluting the flag - hand salute!
Now please join me in the Pledge of Allegiance:
I pledge allegiance to the flag
of the United States of America, and
to the republic for which it stnds,
one nation under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all.
We will now cut this flag, the symbol of our nation, into three foot by
five foot pieces so that we may later burn the pieces in a proper
Please maintain silence as the flag is cut and Eagle Scout Scott
Sackreiter plays "Taps" in its honor.
Calvin H. Gray
Scoutmaster, Troop 405
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City