Some 20 years ago, a tradition began in Cub Pack 439.

In the wake of 9/11, scout leaders wanted to do something to back the military and first responders. So they setup a flag retirement ceremony for the community, held this year on Monday, Sept. 25, at Kochenderfer Church in North Lebanon Township.

“For all the sacrifices that they give, for everything they do for us,” said cubmaster Scott Miller, whose been volunteering with the pack for about three decades now.

Cub Pack 439 scouts hold a flag retirement ceremony on Monday, Sept. 25, at Kochenderfer Church in North Lebanon Township. (Provided photo)

When American flags are worn out or no longer fitting for display, they are – by tradition – to be destroyed in a dignified way.

Miller said that Cub Scouts learn all aspects of flag etiquette leading up to the annual ceremony, which saw about 200 flags respectfully retired this year. Lessons include how to display the flag properly, how to fold it, and how to retire a flag.

The ceremony itself is run by the older Webelos scouts, while all the scouts are involved with folding flags for the ceremony. The Webelos read passages during the ceremony explaining the symbolism of the American flag, such as the meaning of the 13 stripes as an icon of the 13 original colonies.

The pack now has a well-earned reputation as a convenient and respectful way for county residents to ensure that Old Glory always receives an honorable sendoff. Miller said that with help from North Lebanon Township, Kochenderfer United Methodist Church, and various fire companies, Cub Pack 439 has an extensive network of collection points and even already has flags that will be retired in next year’s ceremony.

Among the honored guests at this year’s ceremony was World War II veteran Frank Stellar, a 99-year-old formerly of both the U.S. Army Air Corps & Infantry.

99-year-old World War II veteran Frank Stellar participates in a flag retirement ceremony on Monday, Sept. 25, at Kochenderfer Church in North Lebanon Township. (Provided photo)

“It’s always a special night for us,” said Miller. “For community, friends, and family coming together to show our respect for first responders and military, and remember those who sacrificed and those who are sacrificing.”

The event is held annually on the last Monday of September at Kochenderfer UMC. All are welcome to come out, and anyone with a flag to retire can drop it at the North Lebanon Township building or contact Miller directly at 717-639-4308 to make arrangements.

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