By Utah National Parks Council
Jun 18, 2013

Freedom Festival Flag Retirement Ceremony

Boy Scout Troop 51 participated in the Provo Freedom Festival Flag Retirement Ceremony held on Friday, June 14th at the Macey’s parking lot in Provo, Utah.


Spectators Line the Procession with the American Flag in the Background


Four flags were retired and burned through a respectful process that reminds us of America’s fallen and our flag’s evolution. Retired Command Sergeant Major Randy D. Edwards reminded us that our flag is burned across the world so why do we burn the flag when it is retired? The fire is used in a flag retirement ceremony as a symbol of purity.


Fire Services Were on Hand for Support

The Girl Scouts took part in the ceremony by showing how the American flag has evolved. The flag is over 200 years old but has flown as a symbol of our nation’s strength and unity. It inspires us as we reflect upon the words of our nation’s anthem, The Star Spangled Banner by Francis Scott Key:

O say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust.”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

I especially love the last verse and wish we would take the time to sing all versus. The first verse says about the flag, “yet wave,” the second verse, “O long it may it wave,” the third verse, “in triumph doth wave,” and fourth, “in triumph shall wave.”

“Today, the flag consists of thirteen horizontal stripes, seven red and six alternating white stripes that represent the original thirteen colonies. Fifty stars represent the fifty states of the Union. Red symbolizes Hardiness and Valor, White symbolizes Purity and Innocence and Blue represents vigilance, Perseverance and Justice.


Cub Scout Holds Flag that will be Retired


One of Four Flags to be Retired

Patriotism is one of the three aims of the Boy Scouts of America and if you look at the Scout uniform on the right sleeve you will see an embroidered patch of the flag. The flag comes pre-sewn on the uniform because of the Boy Scouts strong reverence and respect for the flag. Scout meetings begin with a flag ceremony and the Pledge of Allegiance.


Audience Stands during National Anthem and Pledge of Allegiance

And when flags wear out and reach the end of its life the Boy Scouts are called upon to provide a respectful, meaningful retirement for the flag.

The ceremony was led by a Master of Ceremony who explained the history of each of the flags that were to be retired. Boy Scout Troop 51 were in uniform with white gloves marching, unwinding and carrying the flags to be burned while saluting during the burning.


Troop 51 Stands and Salutes During the National Anthem

This ceremony is a great reminder of our country’s history and inspires each of us as we remember the sacrifices made on our behalf and the sacrifices we must make for others to preserve our great country.

Author: Heidi Sanders | Marketing & PR Director, Utah National Parks Council

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