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Boy Scouts Retire American Flag

Burning an old and tattered US flag is the traditional and respectful way to retire it.
(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) "God Bless America," sung in a cappella unison, roars as two Boy Scouts fold a tattered American flag in the parking lot at Cathedral School.

The flag is being retired.

"It's become tattered; it's bleached out its colors, or something along those lines.  Actually the traditional method is by fire," said Scoutmaster Derek Ward, of Troop 47.

The flag is placed in a fire, where it will burn to ash.

The sign of the American flag burning is not always pleasant, but the lesson for scouts and students is that this is the traditional and respectful way to destroy a flag that is retired.

"I think the biggest thing is that they need to know the respect that's due to the flag," said Basil Hoehn, a World War II vet in attendance at the retirement ceremony.  "Even though it's a symbol, it stands for the lives that were spent by many many people to get them where they are at the present time with the freedoms that they have."

Hoehn says he's impressed with the level of seriousness the middle-school aged scouts show during the ceremony.

"I'm really grateful for the fact that the scoutmasters are still carrying on the tradition and are still at least trying to embed upon them the some enthusiasm for the flag itself," he said.

As the ceremonial flag smolders, a new flag is raised to the sky: a symbol of renewed strength and respect to one's country.

Veterans were encouraged to bring all their old and tattered flags to the Boy Scouts.

They will retire the rest at their next meeting on Tuesday night.

State Representative Pat Conway donated a new flag to the troop, one that flew above the State House in Jefferson City.

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