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Smithsburg Boy Scout Troop retires American flags on Flag Day

June 15, 2005|by BRIAN SHAPPELL

shappell@herald-mail.com

SMITHSBURG - The air temperature was hot Tuesday, but it was nothing compared to that of the flames engulfing the tattered American flags that were "retired" during a Boy Scout ceremony in Smithsburg.

Boy Scout Troop 14's first flag-retiring ceremony at Veterans Memorial Park was held in conjunction with Flag Day. About two dozen people, most of whom were active scouts or their parents, attended.

Scoutmaster Jeff Weaver said 28 flags were collected for the ceremony.

They were soaked in kerosene, ignited in a black container and turned into ash within minutes. Weaver said, as is customary with the ashes of a "retired" flag, the ashes will be buried at a later date.

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Though his speeches before and after the flags were burned were both serious and patriotic, Weaver did take time to keep the mood light. During the ceremony, which took place on one of the hottest days of 2005, he joked that they "ought to do this in the wintertime," and asked if anyone wanted a hot dog while standing a couple of feet from the flames.

Weaver said the troop hoped to make it an annual event.

Tunis Lyon, of Smithburg, said he brought a large flag that flew outside of his nearby home for at least 15 years. Lyon said he was impressed by the troop for starting the new event.

"When I was a Boy Scout (in Michigan), nothing happened like this," Lyon said. "I figured I'd come out and see how it should be done."

Steve Myers, a Hagerstown resident and father of 14-year-old scout Steve Myers Jr., said he brought three flags to the ceremony. Myers said he is surprised there aren't more flag-retiring ceremonies in the area.

"I think it's a great idea because there's probably just a lot of old flags laying around the house out there that need to be retired," he said.

Jeff Craig, a Hagerstown resident whose 14-year-old son, Tyler Craig, is a scout, said he was just pleased to see the youths "showing respect for the flag and the nation."

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