Eagle Scout's project helps honor old American flags

Patriotism, respect for the national anthem and honoring the American flag have been hot topics recently. Not a confusing subject for Boy Scout Ayden Abercrombie. The 15-year old Eagle Scout has never had any confusion about the mesmerizing image of a U.S. flag waving in the breeze.

As a member of the Boy Scouts of America Troop 548 Honor Guard, Abercrombie has performed numerous flag ceremonies and taught flag etiquette classes. An important part of his training is learning when and how to properly dispose of an American flag when it is no longer suitable for display.


“When a flag has become ripped, excessively faded or the stitching has come loose, it’s time to retire it,” said Abercrombie.    

According to the U.S. Flag Code, old and tattered flags shouldn’t be thrown away; they should be destroyed, or “retired,” in a dignified way, preferably by burning. Veterans’ organizations, American Legion groups and the Boy Scouts of America are all knowledgeable about the proper means of flag disposal. Whether by burning or recycling, retiring an American flag involves a solemn and dignified ceremony.

To ensure others have access to honorably retiring U.S. flags, Abercrombie approached Centerville OneStop Community Center about an Eagle Scout project to produce drop boxes at three OneStop centers in Gwinnett.

OneStop Centers Operations Manager Vivian Gaither said they felt honored to work with Abercrombie. “This young man approached us with such a desire and excitement to honor the flag and serve his community,” Gaither said. “Thanks to his hard work, we can offer a unique service to Gwinnett residents for years to come.”

To complete his project, Abercrombie prepared and submitted a proposal, interviewed and consulted Boy Scout leaders, developed resources for materials, and recruited volunteers. His project required 16 volunteers and 224 hours to complete over the course of two months.

In just a few short weeks since placing the boxes, one is already completely full.

“Normally we have one or two flag retirement ceremonies a year, but we may need them much more often now,” said Abercrombie.

Abercrombie will collect the flags from the four drop boxes as needed and continue to mentor other Boy Scout troops and adults through flag etiquette and disposal classes.

Abercrombie’s project helped him earn the rank of Eagle Scout in June. His troop will acknowledge that accomplishment with a Court of Honor ceremony Oct. 21, which will open with a flag ceremony. No doubt that U.S. flag will be in excellent condition.

Flag retirement drop boxes:

Buford OneStop Human Services Center, 2755 Sawnee Ave., Buford

Centerville OneStop Community Center, 3025 Bethany Church Road, Snellville

Lawrenceville Senior Center, 225 Benson St., Lawrenceville

Norcross OneStop Human Services Center, 5030 Georgia Belle Court, Norcross


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