By Ms. Minnie L Jones (IMCOM)February 7, 2009
FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - Cub Scout Pack 23, Den 7 joined Soldiers from the Army Medical Department Noncommissioned Officer Academy Tuesday during retreat at the post's main flagpole for a lesson in flag courtesies.
The retreat ceremony has two purposes. It signals the end of the official duty day and serves as a ceremony for securing and paying respect to the flag. The ceremony is performed daily here at Fort Sam Houston.
"It's about tradition and it is honor, putting the flag up in the morning and bring it down in the evening is our testament to those who can't do it," said Sgt. 1st Class Vinny Sandoval, Noncommissioned Officer Academy.
During retreat special attention and care is given to the flag ensuring that no part of it touches the ground. The flag is then carefully folded into the shape of a tri-cornered hat, symbolic of the hats worn by colonial Soldiers during the Revolutionary War. While folding, the red and white stripes are wrapped into the blue, as the sun sets.
On this occasion, the scouts were invited to participate in the ceremony and are now one-step closer to earning their Wolf badge. The Soldiers in the ceremony realize the academy's vision of "Inspiring NCOs to make a difference."
In order for Cub Scouts to earn their Wolf badge they must learn how to raise the American flag properly for an outdoor ceremony, participate in an outdoor flag ceremony and with the help of another person, fold the U.S. flag.
"The scouts look like they were really into the ceremony, they were really knowledgeable about the flag and some of the traditions," said Staff Sgt Jamika Coats, Warrior in Transition, Fort Bragg, N.C.
Before the ceremony began, Sgt Ryan Cobin, 82nd Airborne Division, 4th Brigade Combat Team, Fort Bragg, N.C., gave a presentation to the scouts about the history of the American flag. Next the scouts watched a practice of the ceremony that included a run through of the flag folding, so they would know what to expect during the ceremony. Soldiers instructed them [Cub Scouts] at what intervals to salute and where they should face.
"I think it was definitely a wonderful learning experience for the boys, and it is always a humbling experience for anyone observing. If I think about it too much, it brings tears...," said Julie Rose, parent to Caleb, one of the Cub Scouts of Pack 23.
During the ceremony, just as the sun began to lower in the sky and just prior to the lowering of the American flag the scouts recited a poem "Remembering our Flag"
Today the flag consists of thirteen horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with six white. The stripes represent the original 13 colonies; the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well: Red symbolizes Hardiness and Valor, White symbolizes Purity and Innocence and Blue represents Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice.