IRONWOOD — The American flag has become a rich tradition in the culture of the United States, and a local Boy Scout troop is continuing that tradition by learning the proper way to take care of the Stars and Stripes.
Hurley-Ironwood Boy Scout Troop 323 has been involved with many different aspects of the flag, including saying the Pledge of Allegiance before every meeting.
“With all Scout members, patriotism is something that is instilled in them early on,” Scoutmaster Bill Perkis said. “Our oath says, ‘On my honor, I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country and to obey the scout law; to help people at all times; to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake and morally straight.’”
Scouts also know the proper way to handle a flag when lowering or raising it.
Folded in tradition
The flag is folded 13 times, with each fold representing something different. The first fold represents a symbol of life, the second fold represents our belief in eternal life and the third fold, according to the American Legion website, stands “in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.”
The fourth fold represents “our weaker nature,” and as American citizens, “trusting in God; it is to him we turn in times of peace, as well as in times of war, for his divine guidance.”
The fifth fold represents the country and the sixth fold represents where the hearts of citizens lie, with the Pledge of Allegiance.
The seventh fold represents the armed forces, the eighth fold represents those who have died and mothers, the ninth represents womanhood and the 10th fold is for fathers.
The 11th fold is for members of the Jewish faith, and the 12th fold is for members of the Christian faith.
The 13th and final is when the flag is completely folded and the stars are facing outward, in reminder of our nation’s motto, “In God we trust.”
“The boys were very surprised by the different meanings when they first started,” Perkis said. “And they all know how to fold it properly.”
Retire the colors
In addition to folding the flag, the Scouts have also participated in flag retiring ceremonies. The flag is cut into four pieces, with the blue stars remaining uncut, to represent the union of the 50 states being unbroken.
Afterward, the flag is then burned until remnants are destroyed and then the ashes are buried.
In addition to performing flag retirement ceremonies, the Scouts also have participated in flag ceremonies at locations across the area, including Saxon Harbor.
“We take a lot of pride in it, and we like to help local veterans organizations with these kinds of events,” Perkis said. “The boys do a really good job.”
Flag flying standards
When flying the American flag, there is a set of codes for displaying and caring it.
First, the flag should never be dipped to any person or thing, unless it is the ensign responding to a salute from a ship of a foreign nation, and it should never be displayed with the starred blue union down, except as a signal of distress.
The flag should not be used as “wearing apparel, bedding or drapery,” or for covering a speaker’s desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general, except for coffins.
It should never be drawn back, bunched or stepped on in any way, and if worn as a patch, should be worn near the heart.
During rain or violent weather, it should not be displayed, unless at half staff, and it should never touch anything beneath it.
If the flag and another flag share the same flag pole, the American flag must always be at the top, and if it displayed over a street, it should be hung vertically, with the union to the north or east. If the street runs north to south, the stars should face east, and for streets running east to west, the stars should face north.
When flown with a national banner of other countries, each flag must be displayed from a separate pole of the same height. Each flag should be the same size and the should be raised and lowered simultaneously.
Also, if a flag is displayed at night, it should be illuminated.