Local scouts hosting Veterans Day flag retirement

Item File Photo. Huntsville Boy Scouts leader Brian Gedelian cuts a stripe off an American flag during a flag retirement ceremony on Tuesday night at the Josey Scout Lodge in Huntsville. Boy Scout Lincoln Oberg, left, Cub Scout Jeremiah Clarke, front left, Boy Scout Wesley Oberg, right, and Girl Scout Makayla McGill hold the flag while Gedelian takes the flag apart one stripe at a time. The stripes were carefully placed in a campfire that was built by the scouts. 

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts from Huntsville are teaming up to honor local veterans. 

Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of Huntsville will host their 3rd annual joint flag retirement ceremony Sunday at 4 p.m. at the Josey Scout Lodge.

“When a flag is no longer serviceable, it is important to properly retire it,” said girl scout 10772 troop leader Mary Gedelian. “Scout troops are one of the few designated organizations who can retire them. We started this event as a service to the community and to honor our service members.”

Gedelian and local scouts have worked to collect unserviceable flags from the community, with drop-off stations at city hall, the Walker County Courthouse, the H.E.A.R.T.S. Veterans Museum and personally collecting them throughout the year. The scouts have previously collected between 100 to 200 flags for the ceremonies, with nearly 100 accounted for so far. Attendees are also welcome to bring their flags to the ceremony.

“Retiring flags is not only our civic duty, but the patriotic thing to do,” Gedelian added. “This ceremony is an important learning opportunity for the community who may not know that flags need to be retired or how it is done. There is really an overabundance of dated flags and we want to help retire them with dignity.”

A flag needs to be retired if it touches the ground, is torn, tattered or worn. The process takes a significant amount of time, but it is an important ceremony. During the ceremony, a narrator will explain the meaning of parts of the flag, with the first flag being cut and each piece placed on the fire one at a time. After that, scouts will bring the remaining flags up one at a time to be placed in the fire.

“It is a very solemn and respectful process in which we honor the flag that represents our country and the people who sacrificed to make it free,” Gedelian said. “This is our way of thanking those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice.”

The ceremony is free and open to the public. Local veterans are encouraged to attend and take part in the ceremony.