Flag Retirement Ceremony at the Riverfront: Local Scouts Participate in Time Honored Tradition

Flag Retirement Ceremony at the Riverfront: Local Scouts Participate in Time Honored Tradition

Lisa Patrick 

The Ashland Beacon


   The United States Flag Code states that “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” This past Thursday, November 10th, a group of people gathered at the Ashland Riverfront to give some United States flags a respectful retirement. 

   Although the Ashland Fire Department has always tried to do a flag retirement ceremony twice a year-one on Veterans Day and another on Flag Day-this is the first one since 2019, before COVID hit the nation and social distancing became the norm for most people. A few years ago, a local Eagle Scout had built boxes where people could drop off flags that could no longer be used and placed them at each of the fire departments in Ashland. During the almost-three year gap between flag ceremonies, the number of flags that were dropped off filled up the entire bed of a pickup truck. 

   Cheryl Spriggs, head of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, led the ceremony. The Ashland ROTC presented the colors and the gathering sang “The Star Spangled Banner” and recited “The Pledge of Allegiance.” Spriggs had also invited local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to participate in the ceremony. 

   The first ceremonial flag to be burned was cut into pieces first by the scouts. While the flag was held in place by Kenzie Patrick and Iris Aldridge of Girl Scout Troop 1100 and Blake Patrick and Jazz Holbrook of Boy Scout Troop 1100, Catie Hardesty of Girl Scout Troop 90 proudly cut out the blue field of stars. Nick Osborne, Senior Boy Scout of Troop 1100, then proceeded to cut out each stripe of the flag. As each strip was cut, members of the Girl Scout Troop 1100 and Boy Scout Troop 1100 would read out the name of the colony that it represented and the date that the colony was founded. Osborne would then give the newly cut piece of the flag to Hardesty. Hardesty then passed it to Ashland Fire Captain, Carl Stambaugh, who would then surrender it to the flames. 

   Once the last piece of the ceremonial flag-the stars- was submitted to the flames, Robbie Perkins played TAPS. Then members of the Ashland Fire Department proceeded to throw the rest of the retired flags into the flames. 

   When asked how he felt about being able to be a part of the flag retirement ceremony again after almost three years, Boy Scout Zack Dillon said, “it is so important for the greatest symbol of our country to be taken out of action respectfully.” Dillon said that “it means a lot for me to be here because I’m proud of my country and honored to do my civic duty.”

   Boy Scout Jazz Holbrook said that “the flag is important to me because it represents freedom, justice, and the sacrifice of the people who have fought for our country.” Holbrook went on to say that he was “honored to be a part of the ceremony” and that he hopes to continue “to be a part of the ceremony for years to come.”

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