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United States Flag Retirement

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When the United States flag (Old Glory) becomes worn, torn, faded or badly soiled, it is time to replace it with a new flag, and the old flag should be "retired" with all the dignity and respect befitting our nation's flag. The traditional method of retirement is to incinerate the flag, but this does not mean that one should simply drop the entire flag (intact) into a fire. Though I disagree with burning a flag for a political statement and truly feel it is a dishonorable act, I also feel that freedom of speech must be protected. However, today we are not burning a flag we are retiring a symbol of America's honor, courage, and strength. Therefore we request that all remain silent during this ceremony.

A flag ceases to be a flag when it is cut into pieces. In addition, it is easier to completely incinerate the flag, if it is cut into smaller pieces. A flag should never be torn up like an old bed sheet. It should be cut up with scissors or shears in a methodical manner. The corners of the flag should be stretched out over a table top and someone should cut the flag stripe by strip and then star by star.

NOTE: Some organizations do not like the stars separated because the blue star field is it represents the union of the fifty states and one should never let the union be broken. Others feel that each state is equal to the others and therefore should have the dignity of the state's name being read.

Leader: "The U.S. flag is more than just some brightly colored cloth... it is a symbol of our nation."

Scout #1: "Seven red stripes and six white strips; together represent the original 13 colonies that gained us liberty. The red stripes remind us of the lifeblood of brave men and women who were ready to die for this, their country."

Scout #2: "The white stripes remind us of purity and cleanliness of purpose, thought, word and deed. The blue is for truth and justice, like the eternal blue of the star-filled heavens."

Scout #3: "The stars represent the fifty sovereign states of our union. The American Creed states, "it is my duty to my country to love it, to respect its Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect its flag, and to defend it against all enemies."

Leader: "The U.S. flag should be treated with respect when it's flying, and should be treated with respect when it's being retired."

Scout #4: "Therefore, we retire flags with dignity and respect when they become worn, torn, faded, or badly soiled. A flag ceases to be a flag when it is cut into pieces. We separate the 13 strips that represents the original 13 colonies, and the 50 stars to pay homage to the 50 states that together make up this great nation.

NOTE: Place each stripe one at a time in the already going fire with a stick. You can either read the 13 colonies names in alphabetical order or the following sayings as you place each stripe in the fire.

Have the Scouts line up behind the already prepared flags and have them enter one at a time in a slow solum manner. When the stripe is placed on the fire the Master of Ceremonies reads the state or the a Scout reads the saying. It is best to not have the Scout placing the strip to read the saying.

If you have more than one flag, separate them before into files. Place a stripe from each flag in each of the 13/50 piles. Place all corresponding stripes in the fire simultaneously.

WARNING: Nylon flags ignite fast!
It has been suggested that it might be illegal to burn nylon in some states since the fumes given can be toxic. Check with you state before doing so.

First Stripe "The thirteen stripes stand for the thirteen original colonies which are:

Order State Settled Capital Entered Union
1Delaware DE1638DoverDec. 7, 1787
2Pennsylvania PA1682HarrisburgDec. 12, 1787
3New Jersey NJ1660TrentonDec. 18, 1787
4Georgia GA1733AtlantaJan. 2, 1788
5Connecticut CT1634HartfordJan. 9, 1788
6Massachusetts MA1620BostonFeb. 6, 1788
7Maryland MD1634AnnapolisApr. 28, 1788
8South Carolina SC1670ColumbiaMay 23, 1788
9New Hampshire NH1623ConcordJune 21, 1788
10Virginia VA1607RichmondJune 25, 1788
11New York NY1614AlbanyJuly 26, 1788
12North Carolina NC1660RaleighNov. 21, 1789
13Rhode Island RI1636ProvidenceMay 29, 1790

Second Stripe "The white stands for purity"

Third Stripe "The red stands for courage"

Fourth Stripe "Give me liberty or give me death"

Fifth Stripe "One if by land, two if by sea"

Sixth Stripe "We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, ensure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessing of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution on the United States of America."

Seventh Stripe "We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal. They are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights. Among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."

Eighth Stripe "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

Ninth Stripe "Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech or press."

Tenth Stripe "Four score and seven years ago, our fathers brought forth upon this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal."

Eleventh Stripe "One Nation under God."

Twelfth Stripe "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country."

Thirteenth Stripe "One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind."

Note: If you have separated the 50 stars: Now have the Scouts one-at-a-time take a star and a stick then place the on the fire. As the Scout places the star on the fire an adult read each state in the order they entered the union. The stands by the fire until the state is read. Then he returns to the end of the line. The next Scout does not enter the fire ring until the previous Scout leaves. Continue this for all 50 states.

If you have left the field intact place them on the flame and then read the 50 states.

OrderState Settled Capital Entered Union
1Delaware DE1638DoverDec. 7, 1787
2Pennsylvania PA1682HarrisburgDec. 12, 1787
3New Jersey NJ1660TrentonDec. 18, 1787
4Georgia GA1733AtlantaJan. 2, 1788
5Connecticut CT1634HartfordJan. 9, 1788
6Massachusetts MA1620BostonFeb. 6, 1788
7Maryland MD1634AnnapolisApr. 28, 1788
8South Carolina SC1670ColumbiaMay 23, 1788
9New Hampshire NH1623ConcordJune 21, 1788
10Virginia VA1607RichmondJune 25, 1788
11New York NY1614AlbanyJuly 26, 1788
12North Carolina NC1660RaleighNov. 21, 1789
13Rhode Island RI1636ProvidenceMay 29, 1790
14Vermont VT1724MontpelierMar. 4, 1791
15Kentucky KY1774FrankfortJune 1, 1792
16Tennessee TN1769NashvilleJune 1, 1796
17Ohio OH1788ColumbusMar. 1, 1803
18Louisiana LA1699Baton RougeApr. 30, 1812
19Indiana IN1733IndianapolisDec. 11, 1816
20Mississippi MS1699JacksonDec. 10, 1817
21Illinois IL1720SpringfieldDec. 3, 1818
22Alabama AL1702MontgomeryDec. 14, 1819
23Maine ME1624AugustaMar. 15, 1820
24Missouri MO1735Jefferson CityAug. 10, 1821
25Arkansas AR1686Little RockJune 15, 1836
26Michigan MI1668LansingJan. 26, 1837
27Florida FL1565TallahasseeMar. 3, 1845
28Texas TX1682AustinDec. 29, 1845
29Iowa IA1788Des MoinesDec. 28, 1846
30Wisconsin WI1766MadisonMay 29, 1848
31California CA1769SacramentoSept. 9, 1850
32Minnesota MN1805St. PaulMay 11, 1858
33Oregon OR1811SalemFeb. 14, 1859
34Kansas KS1727TopekaJan. 29, 1861
35West Virginia WV1727CharlestonJune 20, 1863
36Nevada NV1849Carson CityOct. 31, 1864
37Nebraska NE1823LincolnMar. 1, 1867
38Colorado CO1858DenverAug. 1, 1876
39North Dakota ND1812BismarckNov. 2, 1889
40South Dakota SD1859PierreNov. 2, 1889
41Montana MT1809HelenaNov. 8, 1889
42Washington WA1811OlympiaNov. 11, 1889
43Idaho ID1842BoiseJuly 3, 1890
44Wyoming WY1834CheyenneJuly 10, 1890
45Utah UT1847Salt Lake CityJan. 4, 1896
46Oklahoma OK1889Oklahoma CityNov. 16, 1907
47New Mexico NM1610Santa FeJan. 6, 1912
48Arizona AZ1776PhoenixFeb. 14, 1912
49Alaska AK1784JuneauJan. 3, 1959
50Hawaii HI1820HonoluluAug. 21, 1959

If you have a small number of flags, or one that has seen special service it is nice to give its history: First Raised (when): At (location): Memorable event or fact:

REMEMBER ME?

Some people call me Old Glory, others call me the Star Spangled Banner, but whatever they call me, I am your Flag, the Flag of the United States of America... Something has been bothering me, so I thought I might talk it over with you... because it is about you and me.

I remember some time ago people lined up on both sides of the street to watch the parade and naturally I was leading every parade, proudly waving in the breeze, when your daddy saw me coming, he immediately removed his hat and placed it against his left shoulder so his hand was directly over his heart...remember?

And you, I remember you. Standing there straight as a soldier. You didn't have a hat, but you were giving the right salute. Remember little sister? Not to be outdone she was saluting the same as you with her right hand over her heart...remember?

What happened? I'm still the same old Flag. Oh, I have a few more Stars since you where a boy. A lot more blood has been shed since those parades of long ago.

But now I don't feel as proud as I used to. When I come down the street you just stand there with your hands in your pockets and I may get a small glance and then you look away. Then I see the children running around and shouting...they don't seem to know who I am...I saw one man take his hat off, then look around, he didn't see anyone else with theirs off so he quickly put his back on.

Is it a sin to be patriotic anymore? Have you forgotten what I stand for and where I've been?...Anzio, Guadalcanal, Korea, Vietnam, and now the Persian Gulf. Take a look at the Memorial Honor Rolls sometimes, of those who never came back to keep this Republic free... One Nation Under God...when you salute me, you are actually saluting them.

Well, it won't be long until I'll be coming down the street again. So when you see me, stand straight, place your right hand over your heart...and I'll salute you, waving back...and I'll know that...

YOU REMEMBERED!

Boy Scouts Soluting the American Flag

All: "Say pledge of allegiance while flag burns."

Followed by a Taps and then a moment of silence

NOTE: The Scouts maintain a vigil over the fire until all traces of the flag remnants are destroyed. Then, the fire is extinguished and the ashes are buried before sunset the following day. The ashes and the metal grommets are buried in separate unmarked graves. The burial can be completed with a moment of silence while taps is played by a bugler.

NOTE: This Retirement Ceremony was giving to our Troop by a retired Marine and much of the text was taken from postings on the InterNet

Other Sites on the subject:

  • Girl Scouts of Crowley's Ridge Council
  • Barb & Stan Pope's Web Page
  • Scouting Bear's Cave
  • MacScouter

    Laws of the US Flag




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