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Boy, Cub Scouts retire tattered American flags

By JR Ortega
Feb. 20, 2011 at 8 p.m.
Updated Feb. 19, 2011 at 8:20 p.m.

The 50 white stars on the American flag are properly retired at a Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts flag retirement ceremony.

UNDERSTANDING THE AMERICAN FLAGThe stars and stripes of the American flag were a result of a resolution adopted by the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress at Philadelphia on June 14, 1777.

The American flag has 13 stripes to represent the 13 colonies. The white represents courage and the red represents the blood shed. There are seven red stripes and six white stripes.

The 50 white stars represent the 50 U.S. states.

Together, the stars and stripes represent sovereignty.

SOURCE: www. foundingfathers.info

QUAIL CREEK - Flames fiercely fluttered in the wind as Stephen Alexander tossed one of the American flag's 13 tattered stripes into a fire pit.

The silence was only broken by the sound of a new American flag wavering in the wind as the Boy Scouts of Troop 110 and Cub Scouts from Pack 62 properly retired tattered and torn American flags.

"To respect our country," said one troop member as troop treasurer Gary Ford asked the kids why the ceremony they were about to hold for the public was so important.

About 70 old flags were sent to the troop from Crossroads schools, businesses and residences, said Yvette Alexander, 8-year-old Stephen's mother.

"One thing really special that we do is all the grommets, we burn those," his mother said.

A grommet is a ring that is inserted into a thin fabric, in this case, the American flag.

The grommets are burned on a wire hanger and at the end of the ceremony, the scouts pass down the cooled down grommets to veterans from the area.

Receiving a grommet is a special feeling, said Porter Beeson, who served in the Korean war and now has a great-grandson in the Scouts.

"It means a lot," Beeson said humbly.

Watching the Scouts learn how to retire a flag was also great, Beeson said.

Hunter Lemke is the senior patrol leader for Troop 110, and this is his second time watching a retirement ceremony.

"I've done it at Lake Texana," the 13-year-old Cade Middle School student said.

As patrol leader, Hunter feels understanding the ceremony is important not only for the scouts, but for the general public.

"It would help them learn about the flag and what it means to America," he said.

Ways to retire the American flag vary, but Troop 110 decided the best way was to separate the 13 stripes, the seven red stripes and six white, and have 13 scout members drop a stripe into the fire pit, Ford said.

Having the public understand the importance of retiring a flag is a noble thing to do, he said.

This was the first time the troop has performed the ceremony, but the goal is to have the ceremony twice a year from now on, Ford added.

"This is just a service for the public," Ford said. "It's a matter of honor. You've got men that fought for that right."

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