LVMAC Tidbit — BSA Troop 57 Spreads Its Ashes on Graves

Published by LVMAC on

Retired Flag Ceremonies to Occur in June; Recognizing the Fifth Anniversary of the Program

BSA PA 57 A2G June 2013 FlyerBoy Scout of America Troop 57, jointly sponsored by Union Evangelical Lutheran Congregation of Schnecksville and Union United Church of Christ of Neffs, will incinerate American flags at its Fifth Annual Flag Retirement Ceremony at 7:00pm on Tuesday, June 11th on the grounds of the Schnecksville Fire Company.

On June 18th, it will conduct its “Ashes to Graves” ceremony, at which time the incinerated ashes will be spread on Veteran Memorials and veterans’ graves in various church cemeteries located in the Lehigh Valley.   In the opinion of Mr. Peter Hermany, Event Coordinator, and others, this is much more fitting way to dispose of the ashes than dumping them in a trash can, as has occurred.

This year’s Flag Retirement Ceremony will include various tributes honoring the history of our flag, a special salute to military, and a review of the five year history of the “Ashes to Graves” program in addition to the cremation of the flags.  The Troop is therefore asking veterans and veterans organizations to participate in attending this event.

Flags will be collected starting the first week of May.  See below for contacts.

It was a Mr. Joe Zeller,  a WWII and Korean War veteran and a former Mayor of Emmaus and retired member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, who first recognized that the majority of the flags obtained for the Flag Retirement Ceremony had flown over the graves of veterans as a salute and then proposed to Troop 57’s leadership its retirement event should be taken to another level of reverence by properly disposing the ashes as well.   Troop 57 eagerly adopted the “Ashes to Graves”  concept and organized it.  A week after the 2009 Flag Retirement Ceremony, troop members spread ashes for the first time on veterans’ graves in seven Lehigh Valley cemeteries.  The program entailed Scouts placing ashes on veterans’ graves, then rendering respectful salutes at the graves.  This special ceremony has continued to this day, and, despite the efforts of Zeller to broaden the program, it appears to be the only one of its type — at least locally.

The incinerator to be used was constructed as an Eagle Scout project of Troop 57.

Any questions about helping with the program or disposing of flags needing to be retired can be directed to Event Chairman Pete Hermany at tel: (610)266-6788 or to Scoutmaster Sam Raub at tel: (610)366-7765.


As of 15 April 2013