Girl Scouts witness retiring of worn flags

Girl Scouts of all ages attended the flag retirement ceremony hosted by Troop 5248 at the Alpine VFW on Saturday morning. Hundreds of flags were cremated and formally laid to rest.

About 100 Girl Scouts and troop leaders looked on as doz­ens of worn, tattered and retired American flags in varying sizes were cremated in a large iron urn at the Alpine VFW post Jan. 18.

The ceremony was held ac­cording to the United States Flag Code adopted on June 14, 1923.

Troop 5248 hosted the event under the leadership of Shannon Thornton, with scouts of all ages from troops 5810, 5932, 5090, 5931, 5832 and others from El Cajon, Harbison Canyon and Al­pine showing up to pay homage as yearsv worth of donated and gathered flags deemed too worn to serve were laid to rest in their smoky grave.

Retired Bonita Vista High School teacher Sharon Leslie led the girls in a history lesson from the battles of Lexington and Concord through the inception of the American flag and an explanation of Francis Scott Key’s penning of the national anthem.

The former world history and government teacher spoke in a measured voice at the podium, calmly holding the attention of everyone in the room.

“I had forgotten how powerful she can be as a speaker and I was in awe. The little girls sat there the whole time, totally quiet — you can’t help but be enthralled at how she speaks,” Thornton said.

Following formal speeches the scouts proceeded to the fire waiting outside where the first flag was lowered into the wait­ing flames.

Alpine VFW Chaplain Theo Bazdorf (left) and VFW Commander Jack Gauthier carefully fed tattered American flags into the flames.

After the first three flags were cremated, scouts were released from the ceremony.

Thornton said the day was a success.

“I was so immensely proud of these girls, especially watch­ing the more experienced ones interact with the younger girls, keeping them engaged. It was a fun way to learn about the flag and we’ll likely do it again in the fall,” Thornton said.