558 N. Main St., Prineville, OR 97754 | (541) 447-6205
Retiring a damaged American flag is a ceremonious and solemn process.
A local Boy Scout from Troop 42 has decided to gather damaged flags from around the community, and conduct an official flag retirement ceremony for his Eagle Scout Project.
“The VFW said that they had flags that they hadn’t been able to retire, and I know that I have flags at my house that have been ripped and need to be retired,” remarked Ethan Buchheit. “I thought it would be a good community informer, and something that I could use as a community service to the people of the community. I know I can’t be the only one who has flags at my house that need retired.”
He added that Eagle Scout projects are supposed to benefit the community or a program that will put back into the community. They are a service project to earn a Boy Scout his Eagle Scout ranking.
Buchheit has been collecting flags for several months, and has two drop off points in the community. On Saturday, he will be having an official ceremony to retire the flags. According to the United States Flag Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, any American flag that is worn, damaged, or tattered beyond repair should be retired in a respectful and dignified manner. The preferred method is burning.
This may be shocking to some individuals, since other forms of flag-burning are against the United States flag code. Retiring a flag, however, is an exception to the rule. Many organizations like the American Legion, the Boy Scouts Council, and the Girl Scouts Council perform a flag retirement ceremony and burn retired flags in their community. In this case, burning signifies purification and rebirth.
“Basically, when flags are all torn up, they are not flags anymore…. and so they need to be respectfully retired,” said Buchheit.
He explained that this includes torn, damaged, or soiled flags, and this ceremony allows them to be retired with dignity.
“I also would like the community to know that there is someplace that they can take them, because a lot of people don’t know that the VFW actually does take flags that need to be retired, and they hold them there. But a lot of people don’t know what to do with them and just throw them away.”
Buchheit is also in the local NJROTC program, and instructor Russ Robison has been mentoring him with his Eagle Scout Project. The Crook County NJROTC Color Guard will be present for his ceremony. There will also be two Boy Scout troops from Salem attending the ceremony, as well as his local Troop 42.
During the ceremony on Saturday, he indicated that he would first explain to the audience why he is conducting the ceremony and what each part of the flag means and how each flag was previously flown.
Buchheit is a senior at Crook County High School. He recently made the decision to join the Navy, and this week he took a Nuclear Assembly Test (NAT), which is a qualification test for the Nuclear Engineering program for the Navy. He passed, and was accepted into the program. After graduation, he will join the United States Navy.
The Crook County Senior Center, 180 N. Belknap St., 541-447-6844, today from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
The VFW Building, 405 N. Main St., 541-447-5651, today from noon to 10 p.m.
The retirement ceremony will be at the Ochoco Creek Park by the Wars Memorial at 1 p.m.