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Wednesday, Sep. 17, 2014

Flags to be retired tonight

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

(Photo)
Scoutmaster David Elsey supervises as Boy Scout Troop 41 members Ryan Norton, Austin Bowman, Alex Elsey and Mark Blanton practice.
SIKESTON -- Thanks to the hard work of several Troop 41 Boy Scouts, a permanent flag retirement site will be used for the first time at tonight's semiannual ceremony.

The site was built by De Bizzell, 17, as part of his community service Eagle project. "It's supposed to be a significant or material service project all the candidates have to get approved and complete as part of their advancement to the highest rank of Eagle," said Vern Griffith, assistant Scoutmaster.

Bizzell designed the fire pit, in addition to carrying out the plans. He showed leadership skills by coordinating the help of other members.

The Eagle Scout is at camp now, and couldn't be reached for comment. He will not be at the inaugural burning, either.

"I think De would like it if he was here, but I think he did something really great for the community," said Scoutmaster David Elsing. "When he told us about it I thought 'What a great idea.'"

The pit, located at the north end of Veteran's Park, is steel-lined with a black cover. It was put into the ground and a brick pathway was installed, all with the assistance of Troop 41 Scouts.

Twelve-year-olds Alex Elsey and Ryan Norton are among the Boy Scouts who helped. Both laid bricks and poured gravel in the pathway.

"I think that this site De made is a lot more dignifying than the hole we used to dig in the ground," Ryan said.

The flag retirement ceremony is a community service event the troop has conducted for the past several years.

There are different types of ceremonies, but the one set for tonight is what the local troop has used in the past.

Griffith described the procedure: There will be an opening statement, which tells the history of the flag and its proper retirement procedures. Then a small fire is started in the pit. One at a time, two Scouts will bring forth properly folded flags, unfold and display them, then place them into the fire when the command is given.

Between 150 and 250 flags are usually dropped off for the ceremony, and Scouts begin folding them about a month before the ceremony.

Community members don't typically come, but are more than welcome, Griffith said.

Scouts learn quite a bit from participating in the ceremony. "It's a neat project, it's something the boys take pride in," Griffith said. "They learn about the proper respect that should be shown to our country's flag."

Alex agreed. "I think we learn that the flag is very memorable thing and that it should be treated nicely," he said.

Griffith described the ceremony as "very solemn and special." The flames from a flag burning are also "rather noticeable," he said.

Although the ceremony is only held twice a year -- in June and November, to mark Flag Day and Veteran's Day -- residents and businesses can drop them off year-round at the chamber office or the American Legion Hall. Griffith said one should retire their flag "when you no longer feel the flag is in good enough shape to properly represent our country."

Who: Boy Scout Troop 41 of Sikeston

What: U.S. Flag Retirement Ceremony

When: 7 p.m. today at the Veterans Park flag retirement site, at the north end of the park

The ceremony provides for the proper and respectful destruction of worn and tattered U.S. flags. Worn-out flags can be dropped off at the Sikeston Area Chamber of Commerce Office or the American Legion Hall on South Kingshighway year-round.

For more information, call David Esley, Scoutmaster, at 471-7078; or Vern Griffith, assistant Scoutmaster, at 380-7053.