TOMS RIVER – On the eve of Flag Day, Cub Scout Pack and Troop #92 held a flag retirement ceremony at the American Legion Post 129 to showcase the proper way to retire a flag that has become worn, torn, faded or badly soiled.
The Scouts first saluted and took down a flag that flies over a memorial built by the American Legion Riders, remembering the lives of five military personnel who died, as well as eight other Ocean County men. The flag was folded into a triangle then carried to another group of boys, unfolded, and then laid out on a picnic table to prepare it for retirement.
The Cubs explained that a flag ceases to be a flag when it is cut into four pieces: three red and white striped banners and the blue and white star fields – and that the blue and white star fields are left intact because “you should never let the union be broken.”
“The flag should be treated with respect when it is flying, and should be treated with respect when it is retired,” said Ron Cloos, assistant den leader.
As the Scouts took turns cutting the flag into four pieces, their fellow Cubs read off epithets of what each part of the flag stands for:
“Seven red stripes and six white stripes represent the 13 original colonies.”
“White stripes remind us of the life, blood and bravery of the men who were ready to die for our country.”
“Stars represent the 50 sovereign states.”
When the flag was cut into four pieces, Scouts carefully placed them on a burning campfire that seemed to match the heat of the day, giving the American symbol a worthy retirement.
“As parts of the flag are placed on the fire, remember old flags never die, they just get fired up,” said Cloos.
Taps were played on trumpet by a Bugler from Troop 1 while the burning flags were saluted. The boys were then joined in a circle by the rest of their pack and leaders, and kept a vigil around the fire until it burned out.
Cloos said this is the first flag retirement ceremony for Pack and Troop #92, and that going forward, each year the boys and their leaders will hold an annual ceremony for the community.