EUGENE, Ore. - As his family visited the Statue of Liberty, Tharin Beach looked up at the U.S. flag flying over Liberty Island and noticed that this particular Old Glory had seen better days.
"We just saw that it was beyond repair and it needed retired," said the Boy Scout from Eugene.
Beach asked the security guard who was going to responsible for retiring the flag. The guard didn't know, but he got on his cell phone and found out no plans had yet been made to give the flag a fitting sendoff.
"We basically just asked if our troop could retire the flag," Beach said.
The folks at Liberty Island took Beach up on his offer.
"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," according to U.S. flag code.
The Ceremony for Disposal of Unserviceable Flags was approved by the National Convention of The American Legion meeting in 1937. Most flags were made from wool or cotton then; more recent nylon flags are recycled into new nylon thread to make new American flags.
The Liberty Island flag will be retired by burning. The Boy Scouts of America has developed a flag retirement campfire ceremony as a dignified way to burn the flag.
In fact, Scoutmaster Bill Altmiller said Beach and Troop 282 planned to retire a different flag at Camp Hahobas on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington next week.
"When this opportunity presented itself," he said, "plans changed immediately."
The flag measures 15 feet by 25 feet and arrived in a 21 pound box.
The troop put the flag on display at First Baptist in Eugene on Tuesday. From afar, the flag remains an impressive sight. Upon closer inspection, Altmiller said, the damage from the passage of time is clear.
Beach couldn't say what moved him to offer to retire the flag. He said he could it was damaged, and he knew the flag needed to be retired.
Altmiller said that shows the young scout's character.
"This really shows his heart," the scoutmaster said, "and his love of country and Scouting."