A flag is more than just a decorative cut of cloth — it’s a symbolic embodiment of a country’s principles, and there are extensive guidelines regarding its handling and display. So, when Old Glory becomes worn, faded or tattered, it’s not simply thrown out — it’s honored with a special retirement ceremony.
For Girl Scouts of the Gulf Coast troop leader Sheri Potter, the ceremony holds a special place in her heart. She was especially moved after witnessing another troop perform the flag-folding ceremony for the first time.
“It nearly brought us to tears,” she says. “We thought it was the most profound and beautiful thing to watch a flag be retired. We’ve noticed as we participate in the community that there’s a great need for education on the importance of the flag as a symbol and how to properly treat and retire them.”
Now the leader of a designated flag troop, Potter, her two daughters and the rest of Troop 254 spend their time folding and retiring flags and educating the public about the importance of flags. She says not only does it instill a sense of community in both the leaders and Girl Scouts, but it also has the ability to touch people’s lives.
Carmen Lesser, one of the troop members, says the volunteering she does with the Scouts has helped her with the loss of a veteran family member.
“I really enjoy folding the flags,” she says. “It’s honoring the people who have fought for us, and it’s inspired us to do so much we never knew we could. All this flag folding has helped me get through some of those problems.”
For Potter, the biggest reward comes from seeing the impact she and her troop can have on their community through their volunteerism.
“I’ve found a tremendous family and an ability to participate in our community through scouting. We’re all family, we’re all there for each other, and it’s something that will stick with us for a long time. It’s very rewarding for all of us — parents and kids alike.”
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