For the past six years, Burlington Boy Scout Troop 764 has coordinated a special event to honor the country’s flag.
Approximately 25 Scouts from Burlington Township and City gathered in the parking lot of the Burlington Presbyterian Church on Mill Road on Sept. 17. The boys worked together to sort, organize and situate more than 100 discarded American flags to be properly burned for a flag retirement ceremony.
A flag retirement ceremony is intended as a way to properly dispose of, yet honor a worn-out American flag by burning it. The ceremony is aimed to be conducted in a respectful, symbolic manner as the flags are burned.
With former and current Troop 764 members, as well as parents and locals in attendance for this year’s ceremony, the groups were treated to various traditional events, which included a Retiring of the Colors by the Scouts, audio renditions of the national anthem and “God Bless the USA (I’m Proud to Be an American),” while each Scout placed a star-spangled banner into a small fire pit.
Before the evening’s processions commenced, Troop Scoutmaster Andy Caron explained the importance and significance of the event to the community as well as its importance in honoring the nation’s colors.
“These are American flags that were flown and have been used to the point where they are no longer suited for use because they are worn and tattered, so this [ceremony] teaches the Scouts proper respect and how to respectfully dispose of the flags,” Caron said. “This is more of a respectful retirement and disposal of the flags, rather than just throwing them in the garbage or a brush fire with the leaves.”
The Scoutmaster also explained the ceremony is aimed to not only honor the nation’s flag, but for the troop members to reflect upon its principles.
“This teaches the Scouts respect and pride for their country,” Caron said.
With the Scouts showing up one-by-one to the site location prior to the ceremony, each one quickly ran to a long table situated in the center of the church parking lot to pitch in as large plastic bags full of discarded banners were rolled out and laid upon another in an assembly line operation.
As this preparation for the ceremony took approximately 30 minutes, multiple Scouts used the time to reflect on what this event meant to them.
One of them included 27-year-old Jake Dickerson of Burlington Township, who serves as a committee assistant Scoutmaster. Dickerson explained that other than paying honor to the American flag with this event, it also represents a way of honoring those who have fallen.
“[This event] pays homage to all the troops that fell, and since it’s September, it also pays homage to the people we lost on [Sept. 11],” Dickerson said.
For 12-year-old Scout Fynnlee Matthews of Burlington Township, who has been a Scout for the last four years, he said the event serves one significant purpose to him: “Respecting the flags.”
Meanwhile, 14-year-old Jeffrey Caron of Burlington Township, and a Scout since first grade, explained that the ceremony can represent a way to honor the nation’s history.
“It’s our national symbol and serves an important purpose for what our ancestors fought for,” Jeffrey said. “It’s important to retire the flag the right way.”