Scouts raise flag, remember astronauts

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 2, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; One day after the nation lost seven of its heroes in the skies above Texas, it was fitting that three local Boy Scouts reminded a handful of onlookers Sunday afternoon about the importance of patriotism and bravery.

&uot;The U.S. flag is more than some brightly colored cloth. It is the symbol of our nation,&uot; said Troop 157 senior patrol leader Lee Best, &uot;The red stripes remind us of the lifeblood of brave men and women who were ready to die for their countryŠ the blue is for truth and justice, like the eternal blue of the star filled heavens.&uot;

During the small ceremony outside Natchez Community Hospital, scouts from the troop sponsored by the First Presbyterian Church of Natchez retired the hospital’s faded and tattered flag and replaced it with a crisp new flag.

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&uot;February is celebrated as Scouting month and the first Sunday of the month is celebrated as Scouting Sunday,&uot; said Dr. Chuck Borum before the flag ceremony.

As witnesses placed their right hands over their hearts, Best and his fellow scouts, Trey Wallace and Luc Charboneau marched toward the flagpole. They carefully lowered the worn flag, folded and returned it to Natchez Community’s director Allen Tyra.

Then as solemnly as the old flag was retired a bright new flag was hoisted to the half-staff position.

Afterward, the scouts returned to the crowd. Then patrol leader Best made two last requests.

&uot;After a moment of silence for the seven astronauts who lost their lives please join us in reciting the pledge of allegiance,&uot; Best said.

With heads bowed the crowd paused to reflect on the past few days.

Then with the word &uot;Salute,&uot; the scouts and crowd recited the pledge to the newly waving flag.