By Lynne Beauchamp, firstname.lastname@example.org
Having served their purpose, and no longer fit to be flown, several American flags were officially retired at the Dexter American Legion, Post 557 on October 4.
Carrying out the ceremony was the Flag Honor Guard of Boy Scout Troop 442. Boy Scout Troop 442 is sponsored by American Legion Post 557.
Along with the Boy Scouts, veterans and Legion members ceremoniously retired each of the American flags that were worn, torn, soiled or tattered. A proper retirement of the American flag is one in which a ceremony is held in honor of its service and when the flag is no longer presentable, it is retired by fire. Only the Military, American Legion and the Boy Scouts can officially retire flags.
Scoutmaster of Troop 442, Don VanSickle, said the boys of Troop 442 take the flag retirement ceremony very serious.
Boy Scout, Matthew Bauersfeld, a junior at Dexter High School, served as administrator of the ceremony.
“I think this is a pretty big deal, because only three organizations are allowed to do this,” said Bauersfeld. “To actually be part of the administration of the ceremony is a really great thing.”
Boy Scout, Mason Fecker, a senior at Chelsea High School, serves on the Boy Scout Honor Guard.
“This is a really great thing to be a part of,” said Fecker. “Very few people get to see this or do it so I think it is a very valuable lesson and something you will bring with you your whole life.”
After the ceremony, many of the veterans shared stories of their time serving their country.
Among those in attendance was Dexter resident and WWII veteran, Charles Single of Dexter. Single served in the Navy during WWII. Single said he was in the 9th grade when the Japanese invaded Pearl Harbor. After graduating in 1944, he went into the service and served until the end of WWII.
Also in attendance was Jack Clark, Chaplain of Post 557. Also a Dexter resident, Clark served in the Army during the Korean War. He joked about Dexter “taking over Fort Knox” saying many of the men of Dexter trained together there and already knew each other.
The veterans also talked about the military food served in the field, also known as c-rations. The veterans of the Korean War and of the Vietnam War discussed how they continued to be served the c-rations from WWII. Part of the meal provided then consisted of crackers, chocolate and a tin of peanut butter that also served as oil to heat food.
Post 557 has an outdoor collection box for flags fit for retirement. American Legion member, Larry Stalker, said one can bring the flags in at any time, no questions asked. Stalker said there are many dry cleaners that offer free flag cleaning for those American flags that are still useable.