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West Hartford Boy Scouts Properly Retire American Flags

Members of West Hartford Boy Scout Troop 146 properly dispose of flags that had been turned over the American Legion Post 96. Courtesy photo

Boy Scout Troop 146 assisted American Legion Hayes-Velhange Post 96 in the proper disposal of old American flags.

Scouts folding some of the many flags before then properly disposing them. Courtesy photo

By Ronni Newton

Heidi-Anne Mooney, who was the keynote speaker at West Hartford’s Veterans Day ceremony in November 2020 and also helped members of Boy Scout Troop 146 lay flags at the graves of veterans the weekend before Veterans Day, offered to have the troop assist American Legion Hayes-Velhage Post 96 with the proper disposal of American flags that are no longer useful.

The scouts recently completed what turned into a larger-than-expected project when they were given a construction-sized bag full of flags that was so heavy it took two men to lift it. It took two hours to properly fold and then retire the flags.

Mooney said that at an outdoor meeting of Troop 146 on Saturday, Jan. 9, acting Senior Patrol Leader, Scout Jordan Shefsky, announced the plan to dispose of the flags and then turned the meeting over to her so she could explain U.S. Code Title 36, Section 176.

Mrs. Heidi-Anne Mooney reading the Code on proper flag disposal. Courtesy photo

“This code explains when a flag is in a condition it can’t be used anymore, it ‘should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning,'” Mooney, who is one of the assistant scoutmasters, said in an email. “I reminded the Scouts this must be done in silence. That the ceremony is solemn, like a funeral. That we are laying U.S. flags to rest.”

Properly disposing of flags is a service to the community and the nation, Mooney, a U.S. Marine Corps veteran said, and something she thinks is an important job for the Boy Scouts to undertake.

“Our silence shows respect to the colors and those who lost their lives defending our freedom,” she said. “I tried not to get choked up thinking of many friends I have lost in my time on earth as being part of the U.S. Marines, and even those going back to college, men and women who even commit suicide because of military service related stresses. I thought of the loss of great servicemen and women I have known and their dedication to duty and country.”

During the ceremony, after Scout Jacob Mooney called the troop to attention and had the Scouts salute, the youngest Scout, Simeon Bos, was invited to lay the first flag to rest as Jacob shared how this “flag proudly flew over our nation and for all those who died in its defense, how it had served its time of proper use and was a tribute of memory and love.”

Scout Anthony Casarella read “I am Old Glory” – a story provided by Scoutmaster Ron Ward, who is also a veteran, that tells how through all the U.S. and foreign battles, the flag has withstood the test of time, and how the flag represents “life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, which has granted to every American the heritage of being free people,” Mooney said.

As the troop began to lay the remainder of the flags to rest, Jacob urged the Scouts to remember that “as we go about our day, do not forget the importance of our country’s most precious symbol and the liberty it stands for.”

Later, a cast iron pot demonstration of deconstructed apple pie. Courtesy photo

The outdoor meeting included other activities, with five stations of Scout advancement work that was completed while members observed proper social distancing.

They split logs with an ax, worked on rope lashings and knot-tying, and cooked in cast iron pots over the coals. Mooney said that per Boy Scouts of America COVID rules, only one person is permitted to cook and serve, and buffet lines are not permitted.

Other stations included activities related to first aid and fire safety, as well the folding and properly disposing of the flags.

“It was a beautiful sight to me as they honored our country’s most precious symbol,” Mooney said.

“If anyone is interested in joining Boy Scouts, there are four great troops in West Hartford open to boys ages 11-18 who like hiking, camping, outside activities, and community service,” Mooney said. For more information, visit www.BeAScout.org

Photos provided by Mooney, Ward, David Casarella, and Michael Dalton.

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Scouts folding some of the many flags before then properly disposing them. Courtesy photo

Below (from left): Jordan Shefsky, Anthony Casarella, Jacob Mooney, Aidan Casarella, Mr. Michael Dalton. Courtesy photo

Members of West Hartford Boy Scout Troop 146 properly dispose of flags that had been turned over the American Legion Post 96. Courtesy photo

Ax skills with Mr. Michael Dalton explaining the safety steps. Courtesy photo

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