By Patrick Lacombe, The Belton Journal
Belton VFW Henry T. Waskow Post 4008 hosted it’s first “Flag Retirement” ceremony of 2015 last Saturday. The retirement ceremony was officiated by members of Boy Scouts of America troop 177, Cub Scout Pack 177, Girl Scout troop 8226, and members of American Heritage Girls. VFW Post 4008 Commander John Pratt thanked the Scouts for their service to the community and for their efforts in seeing that the symbol of our nation is retired in a proper manner. Addressing the scouts and members of the post, Pratt said, “We don’t just burn flags, we retire them.” Pratt then handed the ceremony over to the Scouts from Troop 177 to proceed with the ceremony. Approximately 200 flags were retired by burning. The flags come from private citizens and local government entities. There are two drop boxes at VFW Post 4008, one inside and one outside. Once a flag becomes worn or tattered, it should be dropped off to be destroyed in a manner established in the USA Flag Code.
The official Flag Code dealing with Flag retirement reads as follows:
The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.
No one knows with absolute certainty who designed the first stars and stripes or who made it. Congressman Francis Hopkinson seems most likely to have designed it, and few historians believe that Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress, made the first one.
Until the Executive Order of June 24, 1912, neither the order of the stars nor the proportions of the flag was prescribed. Consequently, flags dating before this period sometimes show unusual arrangements of the stars and odd proportions, these features being left to the discretion of the flag maker. In general, however, straight rows of stars and proportions similar to those later adopted officially were used. The principal acts affecting the flag of the United States are the following:
On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”
Act of January 13, 1794 – provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.
Act of April 4, 1818 – provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state, signed by President Monroe.
Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 – established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward.
Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated January 3, 1959 – provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically.
Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated August 21, 1959 – provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizon tally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.
Brian McGovern of Killeen attended the ceremony with his son Jack, a member of Troop 177. McGovern praised VFW post 4008 for it’s support of the Scout programs saying, “I’m very impressed with the support this post gives to the Scouts. This retirement ceremony is a great way to instill the pride of our flag in the younger generation.” Recent events concerning “Old Glory” have had an impact on even the youngest patriots. Last month, students at Valdosta State University in Georgia staged a protest against the “Stars and Stripes” and disrespected it by walking and stomping on it. Ten year old Jacob Schrader, a member of Cub Scout Pack 177 in Belton saw the news reports on TV and had this to say. “It made me mad to see them doing that on TV. The flag is for the people who fought for it and I felt really bad that they were doing that.”