On the evening of Tues., June 11, Boy Scout Troop 58 of Phoenixville held its 19th annual flag retirement ceremony in Phoenixville’s Reeves Park. The troop and a small number of community members in attendance all took part in the ceremony which, as outlined in the United States Flag Code (http://www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/RL30243.pdf), names the incineration of flags as the preferable means of disposal of flags deemed no longer serviceable due to wear.
“We figure to have 3000 flags from all of the cemeteries in Phoenixville,” said Chairman of the Troop Jim Kassel. “Each year we put the flags up in the cemeteries on Memorial Day, and they are up for nearly a year before we collect and then retire them. We also put the word out for residents come by to give us their flags to add to the ceremony. We took this project on because it is a great thing to do and it helps people who do not know what to do with their old flags. We pay full respect to the flags and treat them the way that they are supposed to be treated.”
Members of Troop 58 have been putting flags on graves in the borough for 40 years. The cemeteries involved include Morris Street, Saint Anne’s, Saint Mary’s, Holy Trinity, Sacred Heart and Black Rock.
“We collect 1175 flags from Morris Cemetery alone,” said Kassel.
Some of the flags come from the Freedoms Foundation, and others are brought from the Phoenixville VFW and the American Legion.
The ceremony included the pledge of allegiance, special readings - including a history of the flag in all of its versions and the presidents who served during each flags lifespan, and the playing of the National Anthem and Taps on trumpet by scout Brady Cassada to open and end the ceremony.
At the heart of the flag retirement was the incineration of one designated ceremonial flag. This flag was first taken and cut into pieces, with each piece given to the flames in representation of the American states. One piece of flag was given for each of the thirteen colonies, and the subsequent pieces were incinerated for multiple groupings of states. As each piece of the flag was placed into the fire by a ceremony participant, that participant read aloud the date of that state of those multiple states’ entry into the union. It began with the original 13 colonies and continued on chronological order until the final piece of flag was cast into fire.
“The U.S. flag will be 236 years old on June 14th, which is Flag Day,” said Kassel.