Yesterday, my daughter’s Brownie Troop met up for an American flag retirement ceremony. I was expecting something entirely different than what actually occurred, but what I didn’t expect was the emotional reaction that I would have to the whole thing.
I thought there would be bugles playing “Reveille” and that there would be salutes and marching and some nice words said. The first thing that was done, however, was the Boy Scout troop leader cutting up the flag into pieces so each child could have a piece.
Yes, there were plenty of nice words, but then there was a fire built. I was expecting s’mores. Instead, we burned every one of those flag pieces into smithereens.
I learned that this is, in fact, the proper way to retire a flag for the Boy Scouts of America or the government, but to me, it just felt uncomfortable. I felt really upset burning that flag. I think that I associate anti-government hippy protesting with flag burning, but regardless of right or wrong, it just feels like the wrong way to handle such a sacred item that so many people have died for. How in the world did this practice get started? Couldn’t we bury the flag or fold it up into one of those triangular displays instead and hang it on a wall with a plaque?
I put my feelings about this up on Facebook last night, because I was so stunned by the whole thing. Several people responded all assuring me that it was a completely acceptable practice. It still doesn’t sit well with me, however, despite the Google searching I did about it and despite my friends’ comforting words. I’m not sure that I will ever feel resolve over this one, but all I know is that I wish flag retirement ceremonies were handled in a very different way.
So, my song of the day today is “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” because that is one thing I know we can all agree on. Everyone wants to do the respectful thing and give the flag the right send off into eternity. I just wish it didn’t involve burning. Regardless, we all love the flag, so may it rest in peace.