SPIRIT OF ALABAMA: LIFE SCOUT RETIRES FLAGS

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By Elizabeth Elkin, WVUA 23 Student Reporter

To many, the American flag is a symbol of freedom. Life Scout Bode Williams decided to honor that symbol this veterans weekend.

Williams has been planning a flag retirement ceremony since February.

“Today I have 50 flags, American flags, one from every state, and they’re going to be retired this weekend,” he said.

The ceremony opened Friday morning at Liberty Park at the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center. After respectfully retiring the first flag, Bode moved to Camp Horn, where he retired a flag from each of the 50 states.

This ceremony serves as part of his Eagle Scout project. Eagle Scout is the highest ranking a Boy Scout can achieve. Williams has been a scout for eight years, and he is excited to reach his goals. He said less than 10 percent of those who join Boy Scouts become Eagle Scouts.

“That’s really cool to be able to say, you know, i’m an Eagle Scout,” he said.

He appreciates everything the program has done for him over the years.

“If anyone’s thinking about joining Boy Scouts, they definitely should,” he said. “It’s a good program.”

In addition to the flag ceremony, he also raised $6,000 to buy wheelchairs for the hospital, where veterans in need will have access to them.

Williams said he had two goals: to honor veterans with the flag retirement ceremony and to serve them with the wheelchairs.

“I’m just thankful for what they’ve done for this country,” he said.

During a retirement ceremony, the flag is displayed one last time before being dropped into fire.

“Most people say it’s burning it, but it’s really, it’s not,” Williams said. “We’re dropping it in and watching it and thinking about all it’s done for us.”

Former Tuscaloosa mayor and World War II veteran Alvin DuPont helped retire the first flag of the morning. Though he had been to many flag retirement ceremonies before, this was his first time retiring a flag. He loves to see the community, and particularly someone as young as Williams, honor veterans.
“It’s good to see that for this day and age that we’ve still got people that care about it,” DuPont said.

He said that though there are many holidays that honor the United States, none are quite like this one.

“This is the true day that we recognize veterans for their accomplishments,” he said.

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