Allie's Response to Retiring the Flag

April 19, 2009
Allie’s Response to Retiring the Flag
Allie is Clyde French’s granddaughter. She is 4 years old and comes from what most would consider a very patriotic family. Allie was sitting on a bench in the front row, right next to the campfire as our family was enjoying the Cub Scout spring campout last weekend. What a surprise we were in for when we all attended the Saturday evening campfire. The songs were fun, the skits made us all laugh and then it hit. The older boys of the pack were presented with a flag that needed to be retired. Without going into detail of what was about to happen, the den leader explained when it was appropriate to retire a flag and how the retirement ceremony was showing respect for the flag. When the boys quartered the flag you could hear Allie gasp, and say,"Oh no!” Then when they put the flag in the fire, Allie not only broke into tears but started sobbing uncontrollably; loud enough to be heard by 200 people over the sounds of the great outdoors. “They’re burning grandpa’s flag! They’re burning grandpa’s flag! “Then when the boys said that after the fire cooled,
The scouts would gather the ashes and bury them, thus completing the retiring of the flag ceremony; Allie came running to me (her mom). A number of parents and
boys asked if she was okay, thinking that maybe she got burned by a spark from
the fire. She was not physically hurt, but emotionally she was devastated. It took
a while for me to calm her enough to understand what she was saying. She was
so upset that they hurt the flag and then was worried that they buried grandpa's
flag. At four years of age, she didn't understand that the flag was torn and faded,
all she knew was that they had burned and buried an American Flag. Nobody
thought that a little girl would be so devastated by a flag retirement ceremony. I
had to promise her that when we went to Grandpa's house he would be flying his
flag that it was going to be all right. It didn't matter how many times, or how many
different ways I tried to convey this to her, she sobbed and sobbed until she fell
asleep in my arms. When Allie visits grandma and grandpa’s house, she often sleeps in grandpa’s bed. On the wall next to her side there is a 48 star American Flag with gold braid trim hanging on the wall.

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