Scout Troop 57 has flag retirement, ashes to graves ceremonies
Under the leadership of Scoutmaster Karl Schmidt, Boy Scouts with Troop 57 and Cub Scout Pack 57 of Neffs continued their annual flag retirement ceremony on June 4.
This was followed by their unique and now traditional June 10 ashes to graves ceremony, which was created in 2008.
A patriotic program, including the folding of Old Glory by the Scouts and a message from retired Rear Adm. David Keller USN, a Scout in New Tripoli who graduated from Northwestern Lehigh High School, followed.
Then, hundreds of tattered and worn American flags were properly disposed of in the incinerator near the Schnecksville Fire Company pavilion.
This was the Eagle Scout project of Troop 57’s Eagle Scout Paul D. Schappel. While Schappel worked with his Eagle Scout advisor, the late Joe Zeller, a veteran of WWII and Korea, who died last December at age 100, ashes to graves was born.
As many of the discarded flags had been removed from their previous post of saluting the graves of veterans, Zeller suggested instead of discarding the ashes in the garbage, the metal grommets and other debris be removed by shifting the burned flag residue and then returning a spoonful of the ashes to the graves of veterans as an added honor.
After spreading the ashes at the veterans graves, the Scouts saluted and recited “Thank you for your service” giving renewed dignity to the man or woman who proudly served this nation. And, at the same time, the ceremony provided awareness to these youth of the continual cost of the freedom they enjoy.
Historical interest is enhanced at the Neffs Church cemetery where grave markers designate the service of local folks in all this nation’s conflicts back to the Revolutionary War.
The ashes ceremony was introduced by Zeller to the district, state and national levels of the American Legion resulting in praise and recognition for a unique military heroes’ salute which began in Neffs.
This year, the retirement and ashes to graves ceremonies of Troop 57 were joined by representatives of Neff’s Daisy, Junior and Girl Scouts; veterans representing Brig. Gen. Anna Mae V. McCabe Hays VFW Post 12099, including WWII Veteran Walter Toth; Catholic War Vets of Northampton and the Marine Corps League.
As several Scouts banded together to assigned areas of the cemetery, they were joined by one or more of the visiting veterans.
The Troop, sponsored by the Union Board of Governors made up of Union United Church of Christ of Neffs and Union Evangelical Lutheran congregation of Schnecksville, averages between 30 to 40 Scouts and more than a dozen Scoutmasters and committee members.
Since the Troop’s inception in June 1934, they have proudly sent forth more than 100 Eagle Scouts to become great leaders in this world.
Contact Troop 57 at firstname.lastname@example.org for information.