When a United States flag has become tattered and torn, or becomes unserviceable, it needs to be properly retired according to Title 4, U.S. Code 8k concerning respect for the flag.
Retiring the flag usually involves either burning or burial, according to Gordon Plumlee, a scoutmaster with Boy Scout Troop 287 from Killeen and an Eagle Scout. Usually, the ceremony is conducted by Boy Scout troops or veteran organizations such as the Veterans of Foreign Wars or Disabled American Veterans.
Troop 287 has the perfect place to conduct the retirement ceremonies at the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery. And the good thing, Plumlee says, is that any organization that needs to retire a flag can use the location at any time just by calling the cemetery.
The only problem is, there are only four benches available for visitors to use in viewing those ceremonies, said Gene Wentworth, an Eagle Scout himself, who was enlisted by Plumlee to assist in making the retirement site more viable for viewing.
“We would like to get at least 13 benches out there, one for each of the original 13 Colonies,” Wentworth said. “It would allow for more people to have the ability to actually witness the proper retirement of our flag.”
The retirement site was the Eagle Scout project of Sean Cook and was started in 2009, Plumlee said. It took more than a year to set up the burn pit in a way that allowed for proper drainage during inclement weather, set up the walkways and ensure the entire site was compliant for people with disabilities.
Because of the weather — and the fact the site is outdoors — the benches the site needs are made of gray granite and cost approximately $2,250 each, Wentworth said.
In addition to acquiring benches, Wentworth said he hopes the outreach lets more organizations know the site is there and available.
“And maybe more people will come out to see how we properly retire a flag,” Wentworth said. “It’s a wonderful civic lesson.”