Eternal Flame Flag Retirement and Advancement Weekend
September 25-27, 2009

Who We Are and Humble Beginnings

     We are a group of hard working individuals from various Troops, Packs and Crews, in the Pioneer District and surrounding Districts within the Golden Empire Council. Our main goal is to  proudly "Retire"  over 2,700 United States Flags within the given time of 40 hours. This will be our fifth year of retiring flags for the community. It all started back in 2005.  At the time I was Scoutmaster, I wanted to explore various ways of expanding my Troops horizons. I wanted them to be a Troop where they had experience with community service. While I was at the Council Office one day, I noticed some old tattered flags stashed between the wall and a file cabinet.  The gears in my head started to turn. I wanted my boys to learn about flag etiquette. So, I asked about the flags and the receptionist said, "go ahead and take them, we have plenty." I said, "thanks" and proceeded to think out loud. I told her our Troop would be glad to take any and all flags. So, that day I went home with a grocery bag full of flags and unbeknown to me, the start of something big was about to happen. I was content our Troop had some flags to retire. We would take some on camp outs, retire some at troop meetings, etc. Well, within a few days of receiving that first bag of flags, I got a call that changed everything. It was the corporate office of Raley's grocery store chain. The nice lady on the other end of the phone asked me if I was the one "looking" for flags. Being the pack rat that I am, I said, "yes."  Through the conversation I found out that Raley's, Nob Hill, and Bel Air had a program already in place where the public could drop off their US flags and the Boy Scouts would Retire them. It was a great program. As a result of that phone call, I had to rethink my objective with the Troop. It was decided we would plan a weekend, in the fall, where we would retire as many of the flags that we could, over a "special fire," dedicated to just that. We would light the fire, and just like the "Eternal Flame" in Arlington Cemetery, Washington DC goes continuously, so would ours.

We needed to have something else to do besides Retiring flags. We added crafts, games, and advancement opportunities. We also had a Naturalization Ceremony where people from other countries, came here to become United States Citizens! Talk about cool!

The first year we invited Abraham Lincoln. During the Naturalization Ceremony, he recited the Gettysburg Address. The hair on the back of my neck stood up. The following year we invited Mark Twain out. He was a blast and he took time to speak to all the Scouts and told them about all his "adventures." During the third year we had Betsy Ross come out and share her experiences with a young America. Last year we invited the 501st and Rebel Alliance out to Eternal Flame. These are the best Star Wars costume group in the world! Along with them, we found a gentleman, Novastar, who does lightsaber demonstrations. The Scouts and their families really enjoyed the evening, playing with lightsabers.

 

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