Fifteen-year-old Elliot Crouch-Goodhue discovered that not many people knew what to do with old and worn-out American flags.
So he took matters into his own hands.
Crouch-Goodhue created a community flag collection box as part of his Eagle Scout project, which was placed at the Sumner Cemetery, its permanent home.
“Seeing people throw away their flags motivated me to do this,” Crouch-Goodhue said. “They normally just throw it away and don’t think about it. They (can) come and drop it off in here.”
A Boy Scout since first grade, Crouch-Goodhue got the idea after learning the correct process for retiring flags through his troop. The first step involves cutting the flag.
“You cut the stars and then the stripes from the individual flag,” the teenager explained.
Next, a salute is made to the flag before it is either burned or buried. Synthetic flags are buried, while cotton flags are burned.
It’s all about respecting the flag and the people who fight for the country, said Crouch-Goodhue, whose father is in the National Guard. While he was deployed in Afghanistan, American flags found their way home to Crouch-Goodhue and his mother, Kelly Crouch.
“He’s sent back flags that have flown over the (military) base,” Kelly said.
Crouch-Goodhue told his father about his project.
“He really liked the idea of it,” he said.
The collection box is decorated as an American flag and took a group of six Scouts from Troop 172 a week to make. McClendon Hardware, Home Depot and Building Materials and Construction Solutions (BMC) all donated materials. Crouch-Goodhue’s assistant scoutmaster, Mark Williams, provided his tools.
The cemetery is a convenient location for people, said Sumner Cemetery manager Scott DeCarteret, adding that previously, many people were taking their worn flags to City Hall.
“People at City Hall were like, ‘What should we do with these?’” DeCarteret said.
Already, several locals have heard about the collection box and have stopped by.
“(The box) goes with our mission of making the cemetery accessible for activities other than just funerals,” DeCarteret said.
Crouch-Goodhue’s troop visits the cemetery at least once a year, when they put flags on graves for Memorial Day.
After flags are collected, either Crouch-Goodhue’s troop will properly retire them, or another Boy Scout group will. When Crouch-Goodhue graduates high school, he’s glad the box will still be around and plans to come check on it.
“I’d like to see people coming in every once in a while,” he said.