By Debbie Adams
The Great Valley District, Blue Ridge Mountains Council BSA sponsored a Flag Retirement
Ceremony in observance of Veterans Day, recognizing the United States as “The Home of the
Free, Because of the Brave.”
The event was organized by Jimmy Doran III, a former Roanoke County
firefighter/paramedic/training officer and held at the Charles Hill Community Center on the
grounds of the Vinton War Memorial on Nov. 10.
Scout troops from Vinton, Roanoke, Salem, and Blacksburg joined together to prepare flags “no
longer fit to display” for incineration. The United States Flag Code states: “The flag, when it is
in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a
dignified way, preferably by burning.”
The ceremony included the playing of the national anthem, the Pledge of Allegiance, the
recitation of the Scout Oath and Scout Law, and remarks from Doran, Vinton Mayor Brad Grose,
Vinton Police Chief Fabricio Drumond, and Vinton Troop 235 Scoutmaster Brian Cook.
For this ceremony, drug incinerators which reach temperatures of over 500 degrees were used,
rather than the traditional burn barrel. According to Doran, the incinerators work well when
retiring flags and don’t emit the fumes that burn barrels do.
He said that over three truckloads of flags had been donated for this retirement ceremony,
including some enormous ones from the Blacksburg troop. After the Pearl Harbor Remembrance
Day Flag Retirement at the Vinton Farmers’ Market last year, Doran said the donations were so
plentiful that he burned flags for three days afterwards at his home.
Mayor Grose said that it was quite an honor to attend the ceremony honoring one of the most
important symbols of the nation, which is recognized the world around. The mayor is a veteran
of the Vietnam era, when he served in the United States Army.
Guest speaker Vinton Police Chief Fabricio Drumond is also a veteran, having served in the
Marine Corps in Afghanistan, Iraq, Djibouti, and in Cuba.
In his comments, Drumond explained that he is an immigrant, originally from Brazil, and
eternally grateful to the United States of America where he grew up – “a country I will be
forever indebted to.”
“Our flag is symbolic of everything good in a nation,” Drumond said. “The American flag is a
symbol of prosperity and a source of pride that captures American liberty. There is no greater
global symbol that is instantly recognizable as a representation of freedom, values, and hard
work. I am very proud that you have chosen the sacred duty of retiring our colors with the
dignity and honor that the national symbol deserves.
“What makes our flag extraordinarily exceptional is that it is deep-rooted in the foundation,
culture, and faith of our nation. Beyond the walls of our nation, our flag is erected in many
countries throughout the world during crises and protests. Citizens of those nations will waive
our flags to their government in protest of their own practices.
“Cherish your country. Our nation is a one-of-a-kind union, having grown from 13 colonies to 50
states in a relatively short time. We have enormously diverse cultural customs and more unique
characteristics than any other country in the world. Countries may try to imitate us, but it will
never be duplicated. Why? Because it is the qualities of every American that shape our nation
and represent our flag. Those of you who have had the opportunity to travel to foreign soil can
quickly come to terms with just how patriotic and proud Americans are. Neighborhoods
throughout the American landscape proudly fly their flags outside their homes – something most
nations have been unable to capture. Our flag defines us.
“Our flag has served as a symbol of freedom for over 247 years. For all those years, Americans
have stood up to defend our nation. Tomorrow is Veterans Day. As Americans we cherish those
who have fought and died to preserve our democracy as our national emblem emboldens our
national pride and fortifies the legacy for future generations.
“As Americans, we all have an inherent duty to protect the sovereignty of our nation. Young
Americans join organizations and groups like the Boy Scouts that build integrity and character of
future leaders of our nation. I thank the Boy Scouts, a rich history organization that paves the
road to success, an organization built with a servant’s heart. As young adults and the next
generation of American leaders, continue to hone your skills, maintain the course, and be loyal to
the community you serve. You are our national treasure. Our future.”
Drumond went on to explain the history of the 50-star American flag (the longest tenured
American flag), which was designed by a 17-year-old high school student in middle America as
a school project in 1958 (not by Betsy Ross).
“An unimpressed teacher gave him a B-minus because there were too many stars,” Drumond
said. “Then we only had 48 stars. To get a better grade, he was tasked with convincing the U.S.
government to use his flag. Two years later, Alaska and Hawaii joined the union. The student got
a call from President Eisenhower with great news. His flag was chosen to represent the model
flag of the U.S. In this country, despite your age, you can make monumental changes.
“Be grateful for the nation you are blessed to live in. A grateful heart is a foundation of life and a
treasure of God. From the moment you raise your head from the pillow to the moment you lay
back down to sleep, be grateful for the opportunities afforded to you and the people you have in
Doran kept adding flags to the incinerators late into the evening and is tentatively planning
another flag retirement event next month.