SUISUN CITY — The sharp smell of burned fabric wafted off the flag, small flames licked at the red, white and blue until it was nothing but grey ashes. A few people wiped tears away.
The Boys Scout Troop 182 of Suisun gently took shovels and folded the burning charcoal over the ashes of the American flag at the Flag Day ceremony Saturday in downtown Suisun City.
“Today was about bringing awareness and respect for the flag. It’s been 200 years since the national anthem was created in 1814,” said Suisun City Fire Chief Mike O’Brien.
He worked on creating a platform to safely dispose of the flag on Flag Day over the past couple of years. This year, he placed metal sheets over cement bricks and then placed charcoal over the flag for a low burn that would not cause a fire danger.
“It took some time to figure it out, but it worked pretty well this year,” O’Brien said.
The Boy Scouts were given a lesson on proper disposal of an American flag.
“We will do this again this year at camp for the boys if the fire danger isn’t too high,” said Ken Miller, scout master of Troop 182.
“We tend to collect flags throughout the year, and we then dispose of them properly. The Boy Scouts and military are the only ones that can do this for the flag,” he said.
The rules of proper disposal of the flag were established in 1923 on Flag Day at a conference in Washington, D.C, under the heading of the National Americanism Commission of the The American Legion, according to information from a handout at the Veterans of Foreign Wars hall in Suisun City.
Flags that have become torn, ripped and ragged should be brought either to the local Boy Scouts troop or the local fire hall for proper retirement.
“We will take the flags and dispose of them once a year,” O’Brien said.
“It’s about respect, dignity and pride,” said Chris Boyd, of Boy Scout Troop 182.
Reach Susan Hiland at 427-6981 or firstname.lastname@example.org.