(Nov. 23, 2018) The Boy Scouts of Troop 261 and Cub Scouts of Pack 261 retired more than 1,500 flags in a retirement ceremony held at the Worcester County Veterans Memorial at Ocean Pines last Saturday.

Members of Boy Scout Troop and Cub Scout Pack #261 from Ocean City placed worn and torn Stars and Stripes into a flaming pit for a respectful burning, in accordance with the U.S. Flag Code.

“It all comes down to patriotism, to get our young generation to understand the American flag is not just a piece of fabric,” Scoutmaster Ken Nichols said. “There’s a lot that it stands for. A lot of people have given their lives for this flag. We need to get our youth to appreciate certain things in life, regardless of political views.”

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Six-year-old Cub Scout Nora Emerick, of West Ocean City, throws a worn, folded up flag into a burning pit during the U.S. Flag Retirement Ceremony at the Worcester County Veterans Memorial in Ocean Pines Saturday, Nov. 17.

Worn U.S. flags were collected at American Legion Post #166 in Ocean City, Posts #123 and #231 in Berlin, and at the Ocean Pines Community Center throughout the year. Assisting with the ceremony were the Ocean Pines Public Works and the Bishopville Volunteer Fire Company.

“I think it’s important to hold the ceremony, because it shows respect to the flag and the people who have served for it and under it,” Scout Gabe Bradley, 17, of Ocean Pines, said. “When retiring a flag, it’s better to burn it than to throw it away. When a flag touches the ground, you’re supposed to burn it.”

A large fire pit was set up in order to properly send off the retired flags. Before being placed in the pit, flags were folded properly, and then sent into the flames with a salute in respect to those who fought and served in the U.S. Armed Forces. 

“As a scouting organization, this is one of the things we do for American Legion post 166, our sponsor organization, in honor of the country. We follow the U.S. code of proper retirement of flags,” Ocean City Councilman Mark Paddack, a second-year scout leader, said.

According to Bradley, there is a major difference between burning a flag with respect and with disrespect.

“When someone burns a flag outside of retirement ceremony, it’s usually in protest and it’s disrespectful to people who have went over and served,” he said. “I have a cousin who went into the marines right after 9/11, so this sort of thing means a lot to me personally.

“I think when someone burns an American flag outside of a retirement ceremony, they’re doing it for attention more than anything, which is why it’s so disrespectful, because they’re not doing it with any purpose in mind,” Bradley continued.

The ceremony ended with Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts working together to fold the final flag before sending it into retirement.

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