Retiring Old Glory with Troop 610

November 15, 2013

by Len Lathrop

The Veterans of Foreign War have been collecting and storing flags for over a year and on Sunday, November 10, the scouts from Troop 610 held a retirement service behind the post.  Over 50 flags were retired that day.  The scouts followed the guidelines for old flag retirement, with all the dignity and respect befitting our nation’s flag.

After folding the worn, torn, faded or badly soiled flag in the care of the VFW a process that took almost an hour, the scouts were ready to begin the service.  Under the direction of Scoutmaster Roger Patenaude the troop assembled and paraded to the ceremonial site where Assistant Scoutmaster Andre Michaud had prepared a fire in a memorial iron urn.

After the presenting of the colors, a history of our flags was read by the scouts and the first flag was deconstructed to be burned.  Each of the 13 strips have a unique meaning which was read to those assembled as each scout in turn placed that strip into the fire.

First stripe:  The 13 stripes stand for the original 13 colonies which are:  Massachusetts, Virginia, Pennsylvania, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and New Jersey.

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 the sea”

Sixth stripe:  We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of 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 inalienable 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 to this continent a new nation.”

Eleventh stripe:  The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

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.”  Each state is being represented by a star on a field of blue, which signifies a new constellation being formed.

Following the burning of the first flag stripes the field of blue was retired to the flames by Scout Master Patenaude, the field of blue with in stars always stays together as it represents the union of the fifty states and one should never let the union be broken.  John Kelly III of the Pelham High school band played taps with an echo by his father John Kelly II. The scouts and VFW members in attendance presented each flag for incineration as the scouts saluted.