Monday, August 28, 2017

Boy Scouts Retire U.S. Flags with Honor

Boy Scouts Retire U.S. Flags With Honor

By Staff Writer, Brian E. Clark

Saturday Morning, the 26th of August, I don’t think we could have asked for better weather for a ceremony to retire United States Flags. About a year ago, a friend had told me about a Boy Scout, Frank Perotti, making boxes for local residents to drop off their worn out U.S. Flags to be retired, as a project to obtain the rank of Eagle Scout. I hadn’t heard much since, but in one Saturday morning, this Eagle Scout schooled me on what it takes to earn the title Eagle Scout.

Only four percent of Boy Scouts are granted this rank after a lengthy review process. Requirements include earning at least 21 merit badges. The Eagle Scout must demonstrate Scout Spirit, an ideal attitude based upon the Scout Oath and Law, service, and leadership. This includes an extensive service project that the Scout plans, organizes, leads, and manages. Frank Perotti’s project was to make the Flag Retirement boxes, and what a fantastic job this young man did!

I had gone to this event thinking there was only a handful of flags to be retired. Boy, was I wrong! In fact, there were so many, that they stopped counting. Flags filled the bed of a pick-up truck, and another trailer besides that! The ceremony started promptly at 8 am, with the posting of the Colors, by the Connecticut Patriot Guard, and the Bagpipes by Marc Fongemie, playing Amazing Grace. Everyone stood for the Pledge of Allegiance, and Fr. Russell Kennedy gave the Invocation.

Lieutenant Anthony Lancia, of the South Fire District, acted as a Master of Ceremonies, and welcomed all that came, and participated. Then, Frank Perotti spoke and told of his inspiration to build the boxes, and his drive and dedication to become one of the few, Eagle Scouts. This was followed by a speech from U.S. Army First Class Ryan Parmelee, who is also a South District Firefighter, who gave a very heartfelt speech on what drives him to be a Soldier and a Firefighter.

Only one flag was retired for ceremonial purposes. While there are a few different ways to retire a U.S. Flag, Mr. Perotti decided to cut the flag, using scissors, being careful not to tear, or disrespect the flag. The flag was then cut into four sections, leaving the blue field, with the stars, untorn, as to not break up the Union. Fr. Russell Kennedy then gave a benediction, and we all retired to the rear of the Fire House, where two barrels, with fires already started, were prepared to receive the flag sections. Marc Fongemie then played, America the Beautiful on his Bag Pipes, and the service had ended.

On a personal note, there is only so much of a picture I can paint with words. There are details, sounds, smells, and sights that cannot be relayed in words. Only being there, hearing the beautiful music of the bag pipes, hearing the dedication and intensity in a young man’s voice, and talking to the different members involved in such a touching event, can you feel the patriotism from each player. I’d like to thank Lt. Anthony Lancia & the South District Fire Department, IAFF Local 3918, Sergeant First Class Ryan Parmelee, the members of the Connecticut Patriot Guard, the American Legion Post 75, DAV Chapter 7, Fr. Russel Kennedy, and the Boy Scouts of America & Troop 41. It took a lot of hard work to bring this event together, and really, it wouldn’t be possible if Mr. Frank Perotti hadn’t thought to make these wonderful boxes to retire our flags.

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