On the day set aside to honor the stars and stripes, members of Westminster-based Boy Scout Troop 393 also coordinated a ceremony to respectful retire well-used American flags.
Solemnly standing at attention, scouts and others gathered at the Carroll County Farm Museum on Sunday paid respects to the national symbol during a Flag Day ceremony that commenced at noon.
"Our flag is a symbol of our country. Have you ever stopped to think about what that means?" asked Connor Mullen, senior patrol leader for Troop 393.
After reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, Connor, 16, and several other members of the troop each read an line about the colors of the flag, which were set in 1782. Red is a symbol of valor and bravery, white symbolizes purity and innocence and blue signifies vigilance, perseverance and justice.
"It's important to reflect on those that have fallen for our country," said Adam Barnes, the troop's assistant senior patrol leader.
Scoutmaster Jeff Barnes said the troop instructs the community each year on how to properly retire the flag. He invited members of the audience to place pieces of a flag being retired into a fire and then instructed the scouts on how to properly dispose of a whole flag.
"We collect dozens of flags from the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the America Legion, churches and schools," Barnes said.
Peter Gill, Carroll District's vice chairperson of membership, said Boy Scouts among the few groups authorized to retire a flag.
"We wanted to have a central retirement ceremony for the public. We do this twice a year," Gill said.
Brian Holland, of Westminster, watched as his son Wesley, 10, participated in the ceremony.
"The scouts teach life skills like leadership," said Holland.
Barnes said the retirement ceremony is just one of many things scouts do in Carroll County. The troop participates outdoor activities including camping, white water rafting, dog sledding, horseback riding, canoeing and fishing. Activities are generally coordinated once each month. Scouts also contribute to the community through service projects.
"We take young men and try to teach them leadership and citizenship through robust outdoor education. We're always looking for boys ages 11 to 17 to join," said Tim Mullen, the troop's assistant scoutmaster.
Troop 393 meets at 7 p.m. each Monday at the Grace Lutheran Church in Westminster. For more information, contact PeterGill@hotmail.com.