Petal High School student Anson Chennault designed his Eagle Scout Service Project with a couple of goals in mind - particularly as a way to educate the public on how to properly disposed of used or worn American flags.
That goal was met and then some when he and his troop held a flag drive on September 14 at WalMart in Petal, where 89 flags were collected from individuals throughout the community.
“I was really surprised,” said Chennault, who serves as Senior Patrol Leader of BSA Troop 125. “I was very pleasantly surprised at the amount of support that we got, and how receptive people were to the drive.
“We got good support from the community, and it was really heartening to see how people responded and how people felt toward the flag, and how many people flew the flag.”
There are a few proper ways to dispose of a worn American flag, including burning it or burying it in a box. Chennault’s troop had originally planned to retire the flags a third way – by burning them during a ceremony – but because of a burn ban enacted throughout the state, the scouts had to use another method.
“You can cut out the blue star field,” Chennault said. “If you do it that way – and if you don’t cut into the blue field, because the Union must never be divided – it’s technically not a flag anymore. If you do it respectfully, then it’s just cloth, so then you can do whatever you want with it.”
In addition to the flag retirement, any individual who participated in the drive was entered into a raffle to receive a new flag.
“We had 10 flags that we were originally going to give out, but we got six more because WalMart gave us some flags,” Chennault said. “So we had 16 flags, and about 14 people entered the raffle, so everyone we called got a flag. So that was good.”
Although Chennault’s charter is being abolished by December, he would like to work with other organizations to come up with ideas for similar events in the future.
“I really would like to talk to other scout troops about doing this annually, because it seems to get such good support,” he said. “There was a total of about 76 hours put into this project – that’s counting the hours of all the people that helped, and all the things that were done to prepare and publicize the drive.”
Chennault originally came before the Petal Board of Aldermen in late May to get permission to hold the flag drive in the city.
“I think what you’re doing is educating a lot of people – not only us, but others in your troop on the proper disposal (of the flags),” Alderman at Large William King, a retired U.S. Army Colonel, told Chennault at that meeting. “I think that’s a very good idea, and I like your proposal.”