Parkersburg Pathfinder Club holds flag retirement ceremony

Photo by Madeline Scarborough Micah Ackerman, 12, left, and Morgan Molian, 10, salute as they laid down their sections of the flags.

PARKERSBURG — The children of Parkersburg Pathfinder Club conducted their first U.S. flag retirement ceremony Saturday at the bandshell in City Park.

The two flags retired had been the tattered flags that flew at the Parkersburg Academy, said Monica Zill, academy Principal and Assistant Deputy Director of the Pathfinders.

“As citizens and as Christians, our pathfinder club is honored to have this opportunity to show respect to our country and flag,” said Victor Zill, a staff member with the Pathfinders.

“The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning,” as stated in Paragraph K of title 36, section 176, of the laws of the United States.

“We have a flag here that has fulfilled its duty to our country, and we are here (Saturday) to retire it with honor,” said Victor Zill.

Photo by Madeline Scarborough Members of the Parkersburg Pathfinder Club conduct a flag retirement ceremony Saturday at City Park in Parkersburg. The students included Micah Molian, 10, Anthony Zill, 12, Kaleic Thompson, 11, Kyle Barreto-Tellez, 11, and Alaina Zill, 13.

The retirement unit each held a different job, from cutting the flag to folding it, and eventually retiring it. The first cut made separates the 13th stripe from the grommet end.

“The white stands for the purity in all our hearts. It also represents the honor that each of us should show in our everyday lives,” said Victor Zill.

“The red stands for all the men and women who have died in service to our country, both as members of the armed forces and everyday citizens,” he said.

The third cut separates the blue field from the stripes bellow it.

“The blue stands for the valor in which our ancestors fought and died in the many battles that have been fought for our country and all for which it stands” Victor Zill said.

Photo by Madeline Scarborough Kaleic Thompson, 11, from left, Alaina Zill and Micah Molian fold the cut section of the flag.

Victor Zill continued the ceremony stating, “Our flag has been carried into every battle in which there have been United States citizens, from the American Revolution to the fight for freedom in the Middle East. It has flown over some battles that were never declared, such as Beirut where the Marine barracks were blown up by terrorists. It has flown over the ruins in New York from a cowardly attack. In all of these, it has reminded us to stay true to the values that the flag represents.”

Veterans in the crowd came forward and formed a line behind the retiring unit before the burning of each section.

“I now call the holder of the 13th stripe, which stands for the 13th colony on the coast of the Atlantic in 1776, now the state of Georgia, to place it on fire,” Victor Zill said.

The rest of the unit members followed suit in order, with the blue field being the last section placed on fire, each unit member saluting when placing each piece on the fire.

The Pathfinder Club is similar to Scouts with a Christian influence, said Monica Zill. The club is described as a church-centered recreational and spiritual program for boys and girls in grades 5-10.

“It was an honor to hold the blue field,” said Chelsea Maclay, 12.

Other members of the Pathfinders agreed that they learned a lot about the flag through this experience, even though performing the ceremony made them a little nervous.

“We practiced with paper, but the ceremony was our first time with the flag,” said Alaina Zill, 13, one of two members cutting the flags into the proper sections.