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From the Desk of Karl Shelton: Flag Day

Today is a particularly great day for a Scout to be Reverent. It’s Flag Day.   

Karl Shelton Scout Executive

Many people overlook this day, maybe because it’s not a day off, or maybe because nobody understands it. It was on June 14, 1777, that the Stars and Stripes were officially adopted as the American flag’s design. 

The Stars and Stripes hold a unique place in the hearts of Americans, a place of reverence. Most people think of reverence as it relates to their religious practice; it is that and more.  Being reverent or revering something is to show honor or respect, to give deference, or maybe even to adore something with awe or wonder. 

referent scout with flags

There is no other country that has the same connection to theirs.  My wife and I have had the privilege of traveling internationally and in no other country will you regularly see flags flown in private homes or in front of buildings.  They are almost exclusively in front of government facilities.  We have also hosted international guests, who nearly all comment on how many flags they see. 

We show reverence in the special way we fold the flag, in our commitment to keep it clean and off the ground, and even in the way in which we “retire” our flag.  One summer, after a closing campfire at camp which had a beautiful retirement ceremony, the three International Camp Staff who were working there approached me with a somewhat horrified look on their face.  “Why did you burn the American flag‽‽‽” 

I looked at them, a bit confused, and responded, “We retired it”  

“We have seen on the news where your flag is burned and it makes the Americans angry.”  

I had to stop for a moment and think about the clear contradiction in their minds, thought about this curious practice they had just witnessed.  They really made me think. Then said, “This is not an act of aggression, this is an act of respect.  Americans see their flags as having served their country, every flag represents those who have served to protect our country.  Think of this as a cremation, given the respect we would to a soldier or statesman.”  They all agreed that when you thought of it that way, it was actually a beautiful ceremony. 

As we celebrate Flag Day, let's take a moment to reflect on what the Stars and Stripes represent. Show your reverence by displaying the flag proudly, participating in ceremonies, and teaching others about its significance. Today, let us all honor “the republic for which it stands” and the values it embodies. 


Keep yourself informed about the upcoming flag retirement ceremony listed on our schedule.

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