Retiring the flag
Josh Brekken, 17, laid an American flag to rest over the flames of a fire built behind the Capitol on Thursday afternoon.
“It was heartfelt,” said Josh, who will be a senior at Carson High School next year. “You think about all the things America stands for — all the things that are sacred and important.”
Josh was one of 123 Boys’ State delegates from 51 Nevada high schools to attend the flag retirement ceremony hosted by Capitol Post No. 4 of the American Legion where 56 flags were burned.
“I think it’s awesome,” said Nick Green, 17, from Desert Pines High School in Las Vegas. “I come from a patriotic family, so this is a big deal to me.”
Top juniors from across the state are chosen to participate each year in Boys’ State, the leadership and civics workshop in Carson City, where they learn about the structure and function of government.
“I came into it thinking it wasn’t going to be very cool,” said Doug Statdler, 17, of Churchill County High School. “I was surprised — it’s amazing. I want to thank my counselors for recommending me.”
Program director Tim Tetz organized the flag retirement ceremony with Tod Jennings of the American Legion.
“We wanted to show the boys the proper way to display and retire the flag,” Tetz said. “We need to show respect for the flag in the way we worship it and in the way we retire it as one of its life cycles.”
Jennings was eager to plan the ceremony.
“We think it’s important that all citizens know how to retire a flag,” he said. “This is an ideal opportunity to provide a service to the community as well as Boys’ State.”
Jennings said many people believe flags must be retired if torn, but they can be mended.
This year’s Boys’ State was dedicated to Fred Anderson, who has served as a counselor at the camp for 20 years. Within the camp, the boys are divided into cities, one of which was named Anderson City this year.
Scott Isbell, 17, of Chaparral High School in Las Vegas, represented Anderson City to retire a flag.
“It’s hard to see a flag go up in flames,” he said. “It reminds me of the battle where they wrote ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ What kinds of wars did these torn and battered flags see?”