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Flag Retirement and Grommets

Cindy sent in this question:

I would like to make a key chain or slide for the boys in our troop who participated in a recent flag retirement ceremony from the grommets that were left after the flags were burned. Has anyone done anything to preserve / recycle or create anything from the grommets. I think it would be a nice way to remember this meaningful ceremony.?? Thanks.

I have heard of many things which are done with the grommets, but never making a key chain. Some of the opinions I have received on what to do with the grommets include:

  • Bury them with the ashes.
  • Polish them and give them to veterans or the person who donated the flag.
  • Give them to the Scouts who performed the ceremony.
  • Frame them as a memento.
  • They aren’t really part of the flag so don’t do anything special with them.

Readers, what are your opinions? Do you have any ideas for Cindy? Share them in the comments below.

13 Responses to Flag Retirement and Grommets

  1. LIScouter March 5, 2014 at 10:15 AM #

    A scouter friend told me to clean them up, and make them into medals for the scouts who conducted the retirement ceremony. I use red, white and blue stripped ribbon. Cubs love them.

  2. Bill March 8, 2014 at 12:59 PM #

    Our pack does a flag retirement as part of our campfire ceremony during our campouts. The grommets are collected from the ashes and kept until Memorial Day when we help place a US Flag on every grave site at Camp Nelson National Cemetery. The Scouts can then place a grommet in the ground next to a headstone as a display of respect for the service members sacrifice for our country.

    • Jessica May 7, 2014 at 10:19 AM #

      This is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing!!

  3. Vickie April 7, 2014 at 10:27 AM #

    I think we will polish up the grommets, place them on a survival/braided leather type key chain and present to our SM at our next COH. The boys may also do the same with theirs. In hopes that they may always remember.

  4. Jessica May 7, 2014 at 10:30 AM #

    I plan to do a retirement ceremony with our pack. I will be contacting our local VFW post to request that a few veterans attend to help teach the boys about the ceremony, and also for the boys to feel connected with the veterans who served for them, even before they were born. I plan to make a small mimento for each veteran with one of the Grommets to thank them. Something framed, patriotic, centimental – using the scout crest and our pack number.

  5. Cristy September 26, 2014 at 3:47 PM #

    We presented a grommet to each boy who participated in the retirement ceremony. Many of them use theirs as a neckerchief slide. It serves as a great reminder of such a memorable event.

  6. Shawn November 20, 2014 at 9:30 PM #

    We hand ours out to the scouts who helped in retiring the flags. Was told they also could be hung on flag pole to keep track of how many flags have been replaced.

  7. Mary December 9, 2014 at 8:10 AM #

    Our Webelos conduct an annual flag retirement ceremony for our pack. I gather the grommets from the ashes afterwards and make them a special neckerchief slide. On the back of the slide I write the date of the ceremony. I make lots of slides for my boys (kind of sort of an addiction!) These slides seem to always be one they treasure most 🙂

  8. Jason April 15, 2015 at 6:56 PM #

    I made 550 paracord tabs and connected them to the grommets for key rings, etc. I was given a grommet by my friend and a former scout, who was later killed in action in Iraq 2007. I still have the grommet and since then, I’ve collected more through flag retirements and given them with the paracord tabs to friends who knew him. I’m currently making some for his family, with black, yellow, and ACU camo cord to signify the colors of the 1st Cav. Battalion US ARMY (my friend’s unit). It’s a nice way to be reminded of him whenever I’m out driving or simply grabbing my keys for the day.

  9. Doc July 29, 2015 at 10:32 PM #

    My troop retired American flags during a special ceremony while attending a summer trip to Gettysburg. The ceremony was so moving that I wanted to do something for everyone who was in attendance–a way to remember the event in a special way.

    I came across an article about the origins of the Wood Badge:(https://www.ctyankee.org/fs/page/001148/originswoodbadgegilwqellfs145001.pdf) Baden-Powell envisioned a number of ways to wear the bead. One such method was for it to be worn in the button-hole of a coat.

    So I tied each of the flag grommets on to pieces of leather using a diamond knot on one end and a lanyard knot on the other. The boys wear this “badge” dangling under the left side pocket flap of their uniforms. It has been said that if the grommet is worn close to the heart it bring s the wearer good luck.

  10. Drew Fullhart December 9, 2016 at 9:46 AM #

    I believe in giving them to a member of the color guard who retired the flag and then they are to be worn around the neck. Close to your heart. The grommets are part of the flag. And should be treated with the same respect s flag gets. A couple yesrs ago. We wrote letters to wounded servicemen and women in the armed forces hospital in D.C. (can’t remember the name) and I sent a set of grommets with my letter. And honestly. I wouldn’t agree with a neckercheif slide (or a waggle) but I’ve seen kids wearing them as pocket hangers on a string. Which I say is acceptable. Just don’t mske them into jewelry. Godspeed to you.

  11. Joe July 3, 2017 at 4:26 PM #

    This was my post on FB recently. “Tonight I had the honor of participating in a flag retirement ceremony here at Camp Red Moon Island. The Arrow of Light scouts from the Chattahoochee Council performed an amazing, respectful, somber ceremony, that in all honesty it was the most moving tribite that I have ever witnessed in my 26 years of service the this nation. I dont have any pictures, I stood in silent tribute. I wish I knew the parents of each of the 30 plus scouts that participated in tonights cetemony so I could personally thank them for these young men. God bless them and the United States of America!” My follow up post was “I was asked what the significance was of the grommet the Boy Scouts presented to me Saturday night. Every flag has two grommets, usually made of brass, which are used to raise and lower it. That is how a grommet serves. Once a flag has completed its service it is retired by burning it. After the fire is out, Boy Scouts collect the grommets from the ashes and present one to a veteran, or active duty service member, or police officer, or somebody else who serves; as a token of respect for the service they have rendered to the nation and the flag. They can put it on their key chain, or in a shadow box or something similar. In that way, the grommet continues to serve, as a reminder of the flag that proudly waves over this great nation. Now you know why I was so moved by this gesture, four young men I had never met before this weekend chose to honor me with the first one recovered. Those are four extraordinary and thoughtful young men that any Boy Scout troop could be proud of, and I certainly hope they understood just how honored I was by their simple gesture and how much that little piece of brass means to me.”

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