Boy Scout Troops Hold Flag Retirement Services

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About 50 people turned out Sunday evening to witness a flag retirement ceremony conducted by Boy Scout Troop 354 to commemorate 9/11 and those who showed valor on that infamous day.

"This seemed an appropriate day to hold a (flag-retirement) ceremony," said scoutmaster Alex Romberger. "This was a day of remembrance. We sang a couple of songs and said a few words. It went as we had planned -- short and sweet."

The retirement ceremony, which includes reverently burning the U.S. flag, was held at the fire ring on the grounds of Mount Cross Lutheran Church at 601 E. Highway 260.

"The Boy Scouts are one of the few organizations to properly dispose of flags," said Mac Feezor, district chairman for the Zane Grey District, which includes Payson, Pine, Strawberry, Tonto Basin and Christopher Creek.

Veterans groups also conduct flag retirement ceremonies.

Feezor said Boy Scout troops hold retirement ceremonies on a regular basis.

"We try to teach them proper handling and disposal of our flag," Feezor said. "Anyone who has a flag that needs retiring can contact any Boy Scout. Any troop will take flags."

Romberger said members of the public had read about the ceremony in the Roundup and brought additional flags to retire.

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Retired Air Force Col. Art Stone and retired Army Sgt. 1st Class Cheyenne Riley tend to a Watch Fire at the Veterans Memorial in Payson's Green Valley Park Sunday. Veterans, emergency personnel and other volunteers kept the fire burning for 12 hours on Sept. 11 to honor civilians and soldiers who have died during the War on Terror.

"I had to increase the size of my color guard," he said. "But that was no problem."

After the official flag retiring ceremony was over, scouts stood guard over the embers to make sure they were not disturbed.

"We allowed the fire to die down naturally on its own," Romberger said, adding that they were on site until about 9 p.m.

The Payson Patriotic Events Committee also held a service commemorating the events of Sept. 11, 2001. The committee sponsored an "honor guard" beginning at 6 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 11, and ending at 6 p.m. at the Veterans Memorial in Green Valley Park.

The honor guard consisted of volunteers from the police department, sheriff's office, fire departments, veteran organizations and other representatives.

"The honor guard manned a display table and tended a symbolic ‘Watch Fire' or ‘Eternal Flame,'" said Bill Sahno, retired U.S. Marine Corps Colonel.

Sahno said two members of the committee put this event together. They are retired Marine Corps Maj. Phil Prince, the committee project officer who orchestrated the event, and retired Air Force Col. Art Stone, who assisted and coordinated with the various agencies to provideonor guard participants and other significant associated matters.

"This was a somber occasion and we wanted people to reflect in their own quiet way," Sahno said. "This was not a celebration. It was a somber time and we have a lot of somber thinking to do. We had a proper and appropriate observance."

Romberger said it's important to instill in the younger generations respect for the flag of the United States.

"We are the only country in the world that shows this kind of respect for our colors," he said. "We have laws in place to protect our flag. My job as a scout leader is to pass this respect for the flag on to my boys. The flag is not just a piece of fabric. It's a symbol of who we are as Americans."

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