Scouts ready to retire tattered flags

Published 12:00 am Monday, September 19, 2005

Dozens of American flags around the area are beginning to show signs of wear, and the Boy Scouts say they should be replaced. “Law and tradition both say that a flag should no longer be flown if it becomes faded, frayed, or damaged,” says St. John School Board member Russ Wise, the vice president of the Tchoupitoulas Boy Scout District. “Right now there are a lot of flags that fit one or all of those descriptions.”

Flag etiquette has changed in the last decade or two, Wise said. “It used to be that flags were supposed to be lowered and taken inside at dark or when it rained. But since the creation of outdoor lighting and all-weather flags that’s not necessary any longer. In the rush to batten down the hatches and leave in advance of Hurricane Katrina, people understandably sometimes forgot to their flags down. Now dozens of places including homes, business, and even schools have damaged flags outside. Some were so battered by the wind that they look more like rags than flags on their flagpoles.” Wise is asking people to remove damaged American flags from flagpoles, even if they don’t put up new flags right now.

Once a flag is removed, Wise added, it should never be simple thrown away. “There are several groups including veterans, organizations and the Boy Scouts who

periodically hold flag retirement ceremonies to properly dispose of damaged flags. “Call any Boy Scout, Cub Scout, or Scout leader,” he said, “and we’ll be happy to take it off your hands.”