Flag Retirement Ceremony- A responsibility to be addressed with dignity!
It was a fine morning when I was out for some regular marketing during a weekend.
I suddenly noticed something, which caught my attention. A saw a young man and a handful of his friends flocked up in a garden. They were murmuring something. I stood there for some time and then I saw something weird.
They were holding a flag, which was worn out and after some time, they burned it to ashes followed by hoisting a new flag. I could not understand the head or tail of the entire thing and stood perplexed for some time. Finally, I walked up to them and asked them about the entire thing.
They were a bit surprised-probably by my ignorance. However, they did not humiliate me and instead, offered me a seat and a cup of coffee. I was moved by their courteousness. They gathered around me and said that all that I saw was a Flag Retirement Ceremony. I had no other option but to show off my blank eyes and admit that it was new to me.
I was ashamed but they gave me the comfort zone and asked whether I would like to know more about the ceremony or not. I immediately agreed and the next thing that I learned was something that I will always remember.
They said that, it is the tradition of United States of America to destroy the emblem of pride and dignity in a dignified way when its condition deteriorates and it no longer fits as an emblem, which can be displayed. A member of the group quoted the exact words in the United States Flag Code, which states: "The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. (Disposal of Unserviceable Flags Ceremony)."
He further said that in scouting as well as other groups the flags are disposed in a Flag Retirement Ceremony. Furthermore he said that there can be various kinds of ceremonies for the same, which everyone may not agree with but, none of these ceremonies are against any law and each one of them are respectful in their own way.
When he finished saying, another youngster spoke and said that there is a huge difference in the burning of a flag by the demonstrators and the thing that they organized. This was explained by him in a nice way. He said that a flag burned in a retirement ceremony is give full respect, dignity and honor that it deserves for its service to the nation.
A fourth individual in the group, who was a young lady spoke about the precautions to be taken during the ceremony. She said that the fire used in the ceremony should be active but not very large and also, it is very important to take care of the wind. There should not be any instance where the fire spreads because of the wind and causes trouble for others. She also mentioned that everyone in present in the ceremony must know their own role.
This helps in the smooth completion of the ceremony. She continued further and said that a campfire is the best place to organize such ceremonies. However, the flags can also be burned in large drums having a capacity of 55 gallons or in special bins designed to burn large flags.
This was indeed, wonderful information that I acquired and I learned that the retirement of a flag calls for respect and dignity because a flag does not only represents a nation but also evokes emotion, pride and values of good citizenship in everyone. It is a massive responsibility of every citizen to organize a Flag Retirement Ceremony in a proper and respectful manner!