In 4-H we are constantly encouraging youth and volunteers to look for needs in their community then make a plan to address them.
Getting back to business after the storm left one Putnam County 4-H Club doing just that. The Bostwick Bronco Ropers resumed their regular meeting at the local community center. When they arrived, they found a very tattered American flag hanging from the flagpole in front of the building. They immediately began planning the steps that would be needed to replace the flag.
The first step was to contact their county commissioner to get help in purchasing a replacement flag which the commissioner graciously donated and presented to the club at their following meeting. Replacing the flag was not enough as multiple youths in the club had attended overnight residential 4-H camp and witnessed the proper retirement of an American flag. They thought they might bring the flag with them to the next 4-H residential, summer camp for it to be retired; however, the club decided they wanted the community to come together to be a part of the flag’s retirement. They announced the flag retirement for the community flag and the public was invited. Several community members, families and individuals heard about the upcoming flag retirement and began donating their personal flags that were also damaged in the storm or were just too old and tattered to continue to fly. One cold and windy evening the club came together to retire the flag. Members and leaders of the local community association, fire department, and library attended.
The words the youth recited as the flag was retired piece by piece were strong and rang true as a beautiful tribute after a storm that impacted so many. At the end of the ceremony, the story of Taps was read and the crowd sang Taps in unison. The youth proudly retired multiple flags that evening. The citizenship and public speaking skills they have learned in 4-H and put in to practice will follow them throughout their lives.