Flag Retirement Ceremony: Petal scouts host drive in Petal

By HASKEL BURNS,

Back in May, Anson Chennault, who serves as Senior Patrol Leader of Boy Scouts of America Troop 125, came before the Petal Board of Aldermen to ask for permission to organize a U.S. flag retirement drive as part of his Eagle Scout Service Project.

After that permission was granted – along with that of officials from Walmart in Petal – Chennault was able to finalize plans for the drive, which is set from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sept. 14 at Walmart on Byrd Boulevard.

“I wanted to do something (for my project) that would benefit the community, so before I decided what I wanted to do, I drove around town for about a week to see things that maybe would be good to do,” Chennault said. “I noticed that a lot of people fly flags, but that some of the flags weren’t in the best condition, so that made me think that people might have (old) flags and don’t know what to do with them.

“So with the flag retirement drive, they could come and not only donate their flags, but we could raise awareness in the community of how to retire the flags in a way that’s proper and noble.”

During the drive, residents will be able to bring in any American flags they wish to have properly retired. Participants who drop off a flag during the drive also will have the chance to enter a free raffle to win a new flag.

After all the flags are collected, Chennault’s troop will retire them during a ceremony.

“There’s actually multiple ways you can do it that are approved,” Chennault said. “You can either burn them with the proper ceremony, or you can bury them with the proper ceremony.

“Or you can cut them in a way that leaves the blue field untouched, because the Union must never be divided. And then technically it’s not a flag anymore, so you can throw it away, or bury it or burn it.”

To help get the word out for the drive, Chennault made up several flyers to distribute door-to-door with the help of his troop and other friends, and has also used social media and public bulletins to promote the event.

So far, he’s has received a good bit of positive feedback for his project.

“I’ve heard a few people saying this is a good idea,” Chennault said. “Most of the people said they have a couple of flags they can drop off.”

Alderman at Large William King, a retired Colonel who served a deployment in the 155th Heavy Brigade Combat Team during Operation Iraqi Freedom 9.2, said he approved of the flag drive.

“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),” King told Chennault during the meeting. “I think that’s a very good idea, and I like your proposal.”

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