McAlester teen, scouts build flag retirement boxes

·3 min read

May 27—Noah Few said seeing some torn and faded American flags in his community motivated him to do something about it.

The McAlester teenager and BSA Scouts Troop 404 made boxes stored at two locations for anyone can drop off worn flags so they can be properly disposed of in a ceremony.

"When I would go around town, I'd see some torn flags so I wanted to help people get rid of them," Noah said.

Justin Talbot, BSA Scouts Troop 404 leader, said Noah met the requirements to become an Eagle Scout and talked about different ideas to help his community with his final project.

He said the boxes came up through discussions with local veterans associations regarding flag retirement ceremonies and Noah took the initiative to get started.

"It's something that will make it easier for people who don't know what to do with old flags," Talbot said. "It's some place that easy for them to take it and they'll know it'll be taken care of."

The red-white-and-blue boxes measure 4 feet tall and about 22 inches, with Noah estimating up to 50 retired flags will fit in each one.

One box sits in the vestibule at McAlester City Hall and the other is in the city's tourism office.

Noah and his dad, McAlester city councilor Justin Few, found pictures of similar boxes online for inspiration and got to work making them.

Justin said they got plywood for the sides, top and bottom, and steel handles and hinges for the doors.

Anyone looking to properly dispose of an American flag can take it to either location, lift up the small door on the front of the box, and drop the flag inside.

Flags can be disposed at many and county government offices, Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, police stations and more before American Legions, VFWs and the Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts hold flag retirement ceremonies, according to the U.S. Dept. of Defense.

Procedures for flying the American flag were established at the National Flag Conference in June 1923 with the creation of the Flag Code. The American Legion passed a resolution about flag retirement ceremonies in 1937 to establish 'the approved method of disposing of unserviceable flags has long been that they be destroyed by burning."

A flag retirement ceremony usually entails respectful discarding of the flag in a small fire. Some veterans organizations allow flags to be retired in a burial, or through recycling them.

The local BSA troop conducts flag retirement ceremonies at the local Veterans of Foreign Wars post a few times each year.

Noah and fellow scouts put the flag retirement boxes together with Mitchell Construction cutting the pieces and supplying some tools.

Signs by Jade provided placards indicate the flag retirement boxes, while Keep McAlester Beautiful donated paint, gloves, and other items for the project.

Noah said he's learned a lot of leadership skills in the scouts — especially that "you have to take care of your responsibilities," he said.

In nine months as the senior patrol leader,

Talbot said Noah has led the troop in conservation projects, volunteering at Foggy Depot, setting up Camp Tom Hale for summer camp, and much more.

"Noah's very energetic, which makes it easier to do things," Talbot said with a laugh.

Talbot said Noah coordinates everybody to reach a common goal and the troop