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Retirement ceremony held for Old Glory

“When the United States flag (Old Glory) becomes worn, torn, faded or badly soiled, it is time to replace it with a new flag,” said Boy Scout Troop #33 Scoutmaster Joey Stone. “The old flag should be ‘retired with all the dignity and respect befitting our Nation’s flag. That’s why area Boy Scouts, along with members of American Legion Post #198, held a special flag retirement ceremony at Camp McClintock.”

The flag ceremony retired an estimated 268 U.S. flags that had been accumulated by the Pawhuska Boy Scouts and American Legion Post #198.

“Anyone having a flag that has become frayed, torn, faded or soiled may contact me at 918-440-9570 or American Legion Commander Terry Perrigo at 918-287-3281 for pickup,” Stone said.

He said the ceremony followed the Order of the Arrow (OA) which is the national honor society of the Boy Scouts of America.

“The Order of the Arrow exemplifies the ideals of scouting and is a service organization,” explained Stone. “Established in 1915, it is a means of reinforcing the Scout Oath and Scout Law. Not everyone can belong to the OA. Candidates have to be elected to this honorary camper program.

“We began the ceremony by forming a big horseshoe around the fire ring. Participating were scouts from Troop 33, 43, and Pack 30 Cub Scouts. Tim Snow was our caller and American Legion Post #198 formed the color guard and prepared the flag for retirement. At that point, we separated the stars from the bars and separated each strip. When that was done, Snow had the color guard retire the white stripes. After they were put in the fire, the red stripes were added. As I bugled, Snow called for the blue.”

American Legion Post #198 Commander Terry Perrigo said, “The U.S. Flag is a symbol of our nation and should be treated with respect when it’s flying and with respect when it is retired. It is more than just some brightly colored cloth. The combination of the seven red stripes and six white strips represent the original 13 colonies. The red stripes remind us of the lifeblood brave men and women were ready to die for our country. The white stripes remind us of purity and cleanliness of purpose, thought, word and deed. Blue is for truth and justice, like the eternal blue of the star-filled heavens. The stars represent the fifty sovereign states of our union.”

The history of the U.S. Flag began on June 14, 1777, when the Continental Congress established the first U.S. Flag Act. This Act stipulated that the U.S. Flag would be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white. The union would be represented by thirteen stars in a blue field.

A succession of Congressional Acts and Presidential Executive Orders impacted the flag’s design. The last Executive Order was by President Eisenhower on August 21, 1959, that provided for the arrangement of the stars. Nine rows would be staggered horizontally and eleven rows staggered vertically.

Stone added, “The Scouts and Legion members maintained a vigil over the fire until no traces of the flag remnants remained. Then, the ashes were collected and buried. Old flags never die, they just get fired up!”

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