DAHLGREN, Va. - Naval Surface Warfare Center Dahlgren Division (NSWCDD) Commanding Officer Capt. Godfrey 'Gus' Weekes presided over a solemn flag retirement ceremony with Boy Scout Troop 1404 after his keynote speech inspired the scouts troop during their troop meeting, May 24.
"We always welcome community leaders such as Capt. Weekes to come and speak and participate at our troop meetings," said David Hanger, an NSWCDD engineer who is a Boy Scout parent and charter organization representative, serving as the troop's liaison to its Dahlgren United Methodist Church sponsor . "It certainly helps inspire and motivate the boys to set their goals high. Capt. Weekes's message emphasizing the Scout Oath and his participation in the flag retirement ceremony was a definite treat for the scouts."
"The core values of the Navy (honor-courage-commitment) and the core values of the Boy Scouts, as described in the Scout Oath, are similar," added Chip Warder, Troop 1404 scoutmaster who is a Boy Scout parent and NSWCDD engineer. "Capt. Weekes discussed the importance of these values as well as leadership, duty, and serving the community. The boys hear the importance of these ideals from the troop's adult leaders and parents all the time, but hearing the same message from someone else - especially a Navy Captain - definitely held their attention."
After the presentation, Weekes presided over a retirement ceremony for an American flag that was no longer in condition to continue flying over an NSWCDD building at Naval Support Facility Dahlgren.
The U.S. code (title 36, chapter 10, section 176, paragraph k) directs that, "the flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning." Moreover, the Boy Scouts of America handbook advises that, "Scouts can volunteer to help replace faded and tattered flags in their communities and to conduct flag retirement ceremonies for those that have been taken down." The BSA handbook adds that, "a national flag that is worn beyond repair may be burned in a fire. The ceremony should be conducted with dignity and respect and the flag burned completely to ashes."
The dignity and respect was evident as a scout read a patriotic, historical overview of the American flag during the solemn event. Another scout played taps while all in attendance stood silently at attention.
"It brings a profound and emotional element to retiring the flag properly," said Warder. "Retiring a faded, torn or weathered U.S. flag in a respectful and dignified manner is something we take very seriously in our troop. The ceremony was especially memorable since we had the honor of having Capt. Weekes attendance. He placed the flag in the fire, then stood at attention while saluting along with the boys. It was special to all of us. Having an active member of the military participate in the flag retirement ceremony adds another element to the event that we all will fondly remember for a long time."