115 U.S. flags retired over the weekend at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church

In Homewood, members of Boy Scout Troop 237 from Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church and Rick Lange, Faithful Navigator of the Monsignor Frank J. Wade Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus Assembly (center), stand ready to begin the flag retirement ceremony at OLS. Photo courtesy of Our Lady of Sorrows

This past Saturday, the day before Flag Day, more than 115 frayed and faded United States flags and one United States Marine Corps flag were properly retired, thanks to the patriotism of two groups at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church (OLS). 

According to a church news release, members of the Monsignor Frank J. Wade Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus Assembly and Boy Scout Troop 237 conducted a retirement ceremony for worn flags. 

For six hours on June 13 at the church Knights collected tattered flags from the public and had replacement flags available for purchase.

The Ceremony

Photo courtesy of Our Lady of Sorrows

The evening ceremony began with the Pledge of Allegiance and a presentation by the assembly’s Faithful Navigator Rick Lange and the scouts. The flags were then placed into fire.

For the past six years, on the weekend before Flag Day,  the Fourth Degree Knights of Columbus Assembly have held flag retirement ceremonies at OLS. Each year, they have been joined by local Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops and the American Heritage Girls, according to Lange. They have retired on average a hundred flags a year. 

The preferred way to retire U. S. flags is cutting and burning them. Flags cannot be buried or discarded. The ashes from this year’s ceremony will be buried either in the summer or fall during a solemn ceremony at Camp Comer, a Boy Scout Camp in North Alabama.

Very Moving

Photo courtesy of Our Lady of Sorrows

Lange passionately described the impact flag retirement ceremonies have on young people. 

“There are several different scripts that you can do for a ceremony.  One of my favorites… you cut each stripe off and discuss.  This particular stripe is for the blood of our soldiers for World War I.  And this particular (stripe) is for those who gave their life during the Korean War.  It’s very moving.

I remember at a Cub Scout camp out, all these little kids running around screaming. Twenty minutes later we sit down at the campfire, and we begin the flag burning ceremony.  And these kids who were just screaming, were so reverent, quiet.  It is a great ceremony.  To see the young kids right now still have that kind of respect for the flag.  Just to sit there quietly and respect the flag and understand what is going on, it is really awesome.”

To learn about Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church’s special annual flag retirement ceremony, contact the church at 205.871.8121

  • Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.