By Morgan Pilz, Staff Writer
(Nov. 28, 2019) Around 1,600 American flags were retired in a ceremony conducted by the American Legion and Scouts of America at the Worcester County Veterans Memorial in Ocean Pines last Saturday.
The Boy Scouts of Troop 261, Cub Scouts of Pack 261 and Girl Scouts of Troop 621 properly laid to rest hundreds of flags during the annual retirement ceremony by placing worn and torn flags into a fire pit for a respectful burning.
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 Ocean Pines Volunteer Fire Company.
So many were collected, in fact, that the Legion is considering asking other groups to conduct retirement ceremonies as well.
“It’s been a popular event with the community as far as donating the flags that need to be retired and it’s starting to become overwhelming with so many,” Scoutmaster Ken Nichols said. “the idea to move forward is to take a portion of our flags that we’re collecting and hand them off to other local youth groups and scout groups so they can have their own ceremony. We’ll spread them around.”
The event was well attended, he added.
“We had a great turnout from the general public,” Nichols said. “We had a lot more people attending today than we have in the past, so I’m thankful for that.”
Scouts of all ages attended the retirement ceremony, including Cub Scout River Jones, 7, who was happy to help the community any way he could.
“There’s so many flags and I like to help put them into retirement,” Jones said. “I like helping with the flags because it’s good for our community.”
A special flag was added to the retirement ceremony at the last minute, when Ocean Pines resident and Korean War Veteran Frank Krach, 84, arrived with a flag that flew during the Vietnam War. The flag belonged to his late brother-in-law, Master Chief Petty Officer Christopher Quinn, who had toured twice in Vietnam.
Paying respect to the flags and the veterans is a major part of the retirement ceremony, Eagle Scout Kurt Leinemann said.
“It’s very important that we define the history of this country and that we respect our fallen veterans and this is a way we can pay homage to their service,” Leinemann said.
The ceremony ended with Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts folding the final flag before sending it into retirement.