Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois Retire Over 100 U.S. Flags In Ceremonial Burning

Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois retire over 100 flags. Photo Christine Busker
Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois retire over 100 flags. Photo Christine Busker

Freeport, Illinois – In a sacred ceremony, the Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois held a flag retirement today retiring over one hundred worn or torn United States Flags.

The United States Flag Code outlines proper flag etiquette for everything from properly folding a flag to flying a flag correctly. It even describes in great detail how to retire an American flag respectfully.  For our local Girl Scouts, that’s something they take very seriously.

The flags were collected from all throughout Stephenson county, in addition to being dropped off at drop off places. The flags ranged in size from 3×5 inches, to flags that were well over 5 ft.

The ceremony today stressed the origin of the flag, the different parts of the flag and the significance of the flag and the event began with a reading in honor of the flag, some of which was;

“Remember as you look at your Flag, which is the symbol of our nation, that it is red because of human sacrifice. It is blue because of the true blue loyalty of its defenders. It is white to symbolize liberty – our land of the free. The stars are symbols of the united efforts and hope in the hearts of many people striving for a greater nobler America”.

The U.S. Flag code states that, “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.” Thus, when a flag is torn and tattered beyond repair and no longer fit to serve the nation, it’s time for it to be retired.

Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois retire over 100 flags. Photo Christine Busker
Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois retire over 100 flags. Photo Christine Busker

Each person read as part of flag retirement event.  The Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois said they hope to make this an annual event. They also wish to thank the Freeport Rural Fire Department for being on hand during the flag retirement ceremony.

Retiring a flag is a special ceremony that ends with burning the flag and disposing of the ashes in a respectful manner. Christine Busker told us, “this is a solemn ceremony and should be done with utmost respect for the retiring of the flag of our country“.

Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois retire over 100 flags. Photo Christine Busker
Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois retire over 100 flags. Photo Christine Busker

As for flag retirement itself, many groups that hold annual or semi-annual flag retirement ceremonies often have their own unique traditions they follow. Throughout history, burning or cremation has long been considered a dignified way of paying respect to the deceased and to objects worthy of veneration. Burning has been applied to flag retirement to offer the most reverent method of final tribute.

Anyone can retire a U.S. Flag also. The Flag code does not authorize any particular organization with the duty of retiring unfit flags. Any one person or group can do it and there is no one official ceremony.

Flags should however, be retired in private at a non-public location and the ceremony should be a solemn, dignified event.

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