Veterans honored by Cub Scouts, Rotary

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 20, 2005

DEMOPOLIS–With Saturday being Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day only eleven days away, it’s only fitting that several Demopolis groups have taken steps to honor the community’s veterans this week.

One of them is Demopolis’s Cub Scout Pack 41, which will hold a U.S. flag retirement ceremony this Saturday at 11 a.m. The ceremony will take place by the gazebo in the public square.

Pack leader Steve Tyson says that the retirement ceremony is a great way for the scouts to show their appreciation for the sacrifices made by our veterans.

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“It is in honor of them. They’re the ones serving that flag for us. They take their time and their lives working for that flag and our government,” Tyson says. “The colors mean so much to them, they want to see them handled in a dignified way. That’s why we invite the Legion and the VFW.”

Tyson said the ceremony would involve the retirement of three flags, each donated by members the community. Not every flag is an acceptable candidate for the ceremony, however.

“If a flag has entered a state of disarray, if it’s tattered or faded, just basically worn out, then it’s due to be retired,” Tyson said. “According to the U.S. Code of the Ethics, there’s a very specific way that should be done.

“It’s done by burning,” Tyson says, “but we don’t call it that. Flag burning is something someone from Iraq or Iran, who hates our government would do. These flags are being retired.”

Before the flags face the flames, though, any extraneous materials, such as the common white strip along one side that includes holes for the flag’s raising, must be removed.

“It’s not officially part of the flag,” Tyson says.

The flag will then be placed with care into the flames of a special drum the Scouts will have brought for the occasion.

“We’re going to use hickory, because it burns really hot,” Tyson says. “We’ll get the flame going well and one at a time we’ll place the flags in with the Scouts at full salute. The flame won’t be put out until the flag is completely disposed of.”

Afterwards, the ashes of the flags will be buried “in a dignified way,” Tyson says.

Another important part of the ceremony is a guest speaker. This year’s will be Len Cowling, a retired Lt. Col. with the Special Forces. Also on hand to speak will be Demopolis City Councilman Jack Cooley, a former member of the U.S. Marines.

“We want to have good speakers who can instill in [the Cub Scouts] what the flag means,” Tyson says.

Tyson wanted to take the opportunity to thank another Demopolis organization who have a hand in the ceremony.

“The Rotary Club is our charter,” Tyson said, “so we want to recognize them.”

Not coincidentally, the Demopolis Rotary Club also took the time this week to honor those who have fought for our country. The club met at the city landing this weekend for a luncheon and ceremony honoring the city’s veterans of World War II, many of whom were in attendance. Colors were presented by members of DHS’s Junior ROTC program.

“On a day like today,” Rotary member and city Councilman Woody Collins told the veterans, “there’s only one word that comes to my mind. And that word is ‘Thank you.'”

For more information on the flag retirement ceremony, check the Community Calendar in today’s edition.