(ST. LOUIS) — A special needs Boy Scout Troop is set to retire over 2,000 American flags Saturday to benefit the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis.
According to the United States flag code, when an American flag is worn, torn, faded or badly soiled, to the point where it needs to be replaced, it’s time to “retire” the old flag through a respectful ceremony.
Troop leader Joe Vaughn says it’s the largest flag retirement event ever.
“I have Googled it, I’ve Binged it,” Vaughn said. “2,000 flags have never been retired before.”
With each flag that is retired, the troop is asking for a dollar, and all the money collected goes to buy new flags for Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery.
“We decided since a lot of my boys are on [Social Security’s Supplemental Security Income] and they’ve had state and federal help in the past that we wanted to pay it forward a little bit,” Vaughn explained.
There are many ways to respectfully retire a flag, all of which end by burning it, but the Boy Scouts have a special ceremony of their own.
The flag is cut into four pieces, and all four are then burned. The blue star-filled section is never to be cut, according to the Boy Scout’s website, as “it represents the union of the fifty states and one should never let the union be broken.”
While it is burning, scouts maintain a vigil over the fire, and recite a short eulogy for Old Glory.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Jason Hanna and Kristina Sgueglia, CNN
Steve Visser, CNN
Faith Karimi, CNN