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Flag Retirement

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Tiger Cub Flag Retirement Ceremony

 

Note: For young scouts take a moment and explain the difference in burning the flag in a retirement ceremony and the burning of a flag in protest.

 

MC : Today we will retire the American Flag in the tradition of Pack #___________.

 

Tiger Cub 1 : Everyone please rise (pause, wait for everyone to rise)

 

Color Guard Attention (color guard prepares to advance)

Color Guard Advance (bring flag forward)

Salute Those in uniform salute, all others place your hand across your heart.

Color Guard Post Colors (put flag in stand / hoist the flag)

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 stands, one Nation under God, indivisible,

with liberty and Justice for all.

 

Color Guard return to post (return to where you started)

Please be seated (everyone sits)

 

MC : As you can see, this flag before you is worn, her colors are no longer bright. She has flown proudly and has done her job well. but now she must be replaced with a new flag to properly represent this great Nation of ours.

 

Tiger Cub 2 :

Color Guard Attention (prepare to come forward)

Audience Attention (everyone rise)

Color Guard advance (come forward)

Color Guard retrieve colors (lower the flag / pick up flag from stand)

Color Guard prepare the colors (fold the flag hold with arms cross)

Please be seated (everyone sits / color guard remains standing)

 

MC : Now we have 3 scouts to tell us about the flag and the Tiger Motto

 

Tiger Cub 3 : Search we search out the color Red in our flag and honor those who have

served our Country.

 

Tiger Cub 4 : Discover we discover the color White and found it represents innocence

and purity.

 

Tiger Cub 5 : Share - we share what we learn and like the color blue of the flag, sharing

brings us together as one, United under God.

 

MC : Color Guard, Retire Colors

 

Color guard unfolds the flag. 4 tigers Salute the flag and hold a corner (one at each corner) and place the flag into the fire. Note : Adult parent helps.

 

MC : Do not think of this Flag as being burned, But think of her as her spirit is set free, Think about what she represents, Freedom, Innocence, Sacrifice, Unity and continue to Honor her. This concludes the ceremony.

(if the audience has flags to retire please bring them forward)

 

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Just remember those poly flags produce a lot of flame and heat.

 

3 things to add:

 

#1 - An adult with a poker to push the flag int ot he flames as it burnes

 

#2 - collect the grommets when the fir cools

 

#3 - bury a portion of the ashes on a later date ceremoniously.

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Our troop does something very similar to what you do. Excellent program. Our only difference is that the flag is not unfolded when it is put in the fire. The scouts salute the flag as it is put, folded, in the fire and then hold the salute until the flag is no longer recognizable.

 

The reason for this is that it takes quite some time for a cotton flag to burn and while holding the salute in silence it gives the boys an opportunity to think about what has just happened. A number of boys have commented that during the silence it is the most emotional part of the ceremony.

 

For flags that were once placed on the coffins of veterans, it would be appropriate to actually re-read the obituary for the veteran for whom the flag honored.

 

Yes, one is "destroying" the flag, but to take the time to reflect on what that particular flag did in it's "lifetime" is well worth the effort.

 

Like you, we dig the grommets out and give them back to the person who once owned the flag. If the flag had once been on a loved one's coffin, it is the last remnant of that honor and the family may appreciate it.

 

Nice post.

 

Stosh

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Just an afterthought...

 

Be sure to have time to DISCUSS the ceremony afterwards, especially with younger scouts. For some, you will not appreciate how emotional an event it might be until they see the ceremony.

 

Had this happen at summer camp one summer and had 7 Tiger and Wolf cubs in tears at the end of it. Glad it had such an impact, but we had to scramble to have enough adult support to discuss / console some of the younger scouts (and other adults to talk with the older scouts - so they wouldn't tease the younger ones because of their emotional reaction).

 

Still a great thing to do - just "Be Prepared" for the emotional impact the ceremony may impart on very young scouts.

 

My 2-cents...

 

Dean

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For what it's worth ... I would suggest using Webelos or Boy Scouts to actually conduct the ceremony.

 

First, it's a matter of safety. Campfires are hotter than you think, and even with adults helping, the Tigers may get freaked out and drop / start waving the flaming flag around. That's no good.

 

Secondly, it's a matter of progression. Have them watch a retirement ceremony as Tigers and Wolves, and gradually move up to involvement in the actual retirement later on. There's no need to jump in with two feet right off the bat. Give them a solemn ceremony and important job to look forward to in their Scouting lives.

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I'd like to add something here....Thuis is a great educational oppertunity too.

 

When ever we had a flag raising ceremony or color guard ceremony inside...there were always one or two scouts who would say: " Don't drop the flag or you have to burn it!"

 

Yeah, we told them that this was not correct..but you know how kids are - it gets stuck in their heads.

 

So about an hour before our flag retirement ceremony, we talked to them about what you really do. We made an age appropriate prresentation/ talk about the US flag code and misconceptions.

 

If a flag touches the ground or something below it, the proper procedure is to adjust or raise the flag as to not disgrace the flag...not burn it.

 

Then we explained that buring the flag just for any ole thing was insulting for the flag. I then explained that burning the flag at a retirement ceremony was a sign of respect to the flag as the only other option was to throw it away where it could end up in a landfill with trash and covered with rotting food, coffee grounds or something nasty like that.

 

You get what I mean? Not a heavy lecture or too deep a conversation, but a simple explanation of why we do what we do.

 

When the time came for the flag retirement...I swear that the Cubs saluted a little bit straighter and more pasionately.

 

I haven't heard a word about buring a flag that touches the ground since.

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Reviving an old thread.

 

What flag retirement ceremony does your unit use?  Everyone has a different one.

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Reviving an old thread.

 

What flag retirement ceremony does your unit use?  Everyone has a different one.

 

We do the following:

  • Build a bonfire and let it burn to hot coals.
  • We then separate the Field of Valor from the Stripes using a special razor.
  • We then burn the strips first and then the Field of Valor.
  • During the ceremony we have a series of readings while we burn the Stripes.
  • When we burn the Field of Valor we play taps.
  • The coals are folded over the burning remains and the coals are allowed to die out during the night (yes, we have an honor guard of two adults and several scouts camping near the fire to make sure it is contained. The next morning we spread the coals and douse with water, then cover with dirt.
  • This is done privately as a troop on private land. We try to follow LNT where we can.

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Our boys:

 

1) Build a fire.

 

2) Fold the Flag as best we can.

 

3) Take it to a flag pole and fly it one last time with full flag protocol including the Pledge.

 

4) Retrieve the Flag and fold (again, as best we can if it's tattered)

 

5) Take it to the fire and place, folded into the fire.

 

6) Salute until it isn't recognizable anymore as the Flag.

 

7) If we know it was a coffin pall, the grommets are retrieved from the ashes the next morning and given back to the family.

 

We do not shred the Flag prior to the retirement in that once it is "cut up" it is no longer the Flag.  

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I'm not familiar with the term, 'Field of Valor."  Where does that come from?

 

Army and Marine Corps manuals. Means the blue field with stars.

Edited by Bad Wolf

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We've done a ceremony similar to the one @ mentions.  We've also done a ceremony where the scouts unfolded the flags and displayed them before the assembly as an "inspection" before the flag was retired.  When we do the full flag retirements we used adults/older scouts to handle placing the flags into the fire because they'd sometimes catch the thermals.

 

Edit: "They" being the flags and not the scouts.  Just saying.

Edited by walk in the woods
  • Upvote 1

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Army and Marine Corps manuals. Means the blue field with stars.

I'm accustomed to calling it the canton (or union).

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We had a respectful & meaningful flag retirement ceremony on the last camp out.  I pulled the grommets out of the ashes and cleaned them up.  Note - grommets are now nickel plated.  Soaking in ketchup worked well for cleaning.

 

I made shoulder loops for each Scout that participated in the ceremony and presented them with the shoulder loop & grommet last night.  I wasn't sure how it would go over but the Scouts seemed to appreciate the token.  Here's a picture of the grommets on the loops.  I put them on the Scout's uniform - left shoulder loop.  Yes, I know, it's against the uniform inspection sheet.

 

gXyLglo.jpg

Edited by KenD500

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I'm very much against using part of a retired flag as a decoration/trophy (notwithstanding the ridiculous notion that grommets are not 'part' of a flag). In fact, I'd go so far as to say that wearing it on a uniform is a desecration to both the flag and the uniform.

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