Michael Hamner, working to become an Eagle Scout, is on a mission to raise awareness about the American flag in the community, what it represents, and how to respectfully retire flags that are worn, torn, faded or soiled.
“Flying a tattered or faded flag is not respectful,” he said as he explained his Eagle Scout project to collect and retire flags. “Some people think flying a torn flag is better than not flying one at all. Each flag that is flown should ‘be worthy to be a symbol of our country.’ The flag is a symbol of what America is and has been and the men and women who gave their lives for it.”
He explained that many people do not know what to do with their old or worn flags. He and his team collected flags in front of City Market two days last week. 200+ flags were dropped off by members of the community to be retired in a special flag burning ceremony that took place at Hamner’s house with his team members, other scouts, and leaders in attendance. The team has been working with the Disabled American Veterans (DAV).
At the beginning of the ceremony each flag is folded in the traditional triangle shape. It is then unfolded and cut into four pieces with three pieces of the red and white stripes and the fourth piece the intact blue field with the stars because “no one should ever let the union be broken.” The pieces are then put in the fire and the scouts keep vigil until the pieces are consumed completely. The ashes are then taken up and respectfully buried. The grommets are salvaged and given to younger scouts as a memento and a reminder of the flag retirement ceremony.
Hamner, age 17, will begin his senior year at Montrose High School in the fall. He is the son of Tamara and Spencer Hamner, who have been strong supporters of Hamner’s participation in scouting. He has been a member of the Boy Scouts since he was 11 years old in Indiana, Ohio, and Colorado. In addition to being active in the Scouting program, Hamner is a member of the local Civil Air Patrol and will attend an Air Force Camp this summer. His goal is to become an Air Force fighter pilot after graduation from high school.
Eagle badge projects must be submitted to and approved by the local Eagle Scout Board and must have a community service element and show leadership. Letters of recommendation must also be submitted with the application.
During his years of scouting, Hamner said, “I learned self-discipline. It takes a lot of grit to keep going. You have to earn at least 15-21 merit badges. I have 30+ badges and my Dad helped me keep going when I wanted to give up.” He also talked about his scouting leadership training and how it has taught him “responsibility and how to delegate.” Hamner has also served as a Life Scout for six months.
Hamner is grateful to his team members for assisting with this project by helping to collect the flags and participating in the flag retirement ceremony. His team members were: Callum Jakeman, Aidan Jakeman, Manuel Bates, Aaron Coon, Taneya Booth, and the Kulbeth Family.