By Mary O’KEEFE
On Saturday at the Hometown Country Fair at 11 a.m., Boy Scout Kirk Wilson, 17, will complete his Eagle Scout project when he oversees a flag retirement ceremony.
Wilson is a member of Boy Scout Troop 390. When he began his Eagle Scout project, he wasn’t certain how successful he would be in receiving the old and worn flags needed for the retirement.
“I was pretty successful,” said Wilson. “We have about 60 flags now.”
The idea for the project began with news stories he had seen.
“I started out looking at [news stories] on the Internet. It was around the time when there was [a lot of unrest] in Libya and people there were not showing respect for the American flag,” Wilson said.
He wanted to do something that demonstrated respect for the flag and to show support for military troops. He began speaking with his Scout leaders and looking into projects he could do.
“I [decided] to collect flags for retirement and send pocket-size flags to troops,” he said.
Wilson discovered the Pocket Flag Project online and contacted them. He raised funds and was able to purchase 900 flags. The flags through the project were sent to the Boy Scout. Wilson, along with friends and family, held two flag folding sessions and prepared all 900 for troops on the front lines overseas.
“Before I started the project, I had to have a beneficiary,” he said.
The community as a whole would benefit from the flag retirement and the troops for the flags, but the Eagle project required a more specific beneficiary.
Wilson, a Crescenta Valley High School student, went to Lt. Col. Dave Worley, mentor for the JROTC at the high school.
“[Worley] lined me up with Lynn McGinnis,” he said.
McGinnis is a retired Rosemont teacher and veteran. He agreed to help with the project and introduced Wilson to members of American Legion 288, which became the beneficiary organization for the project.
Beyond the flag retirement and donation to the troops, Wilson added an educational aspect to his project.
“I created a website and flyers that taught flag etiquette,” he said.
There were flag drop off centers around town including the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station. He reached out to the community through his church, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and by walking neighborhoods and distributing flyers.
He had help along the way with Boy Scout members, family and friends.
“I have had a good response from people,” he said. “Lt. Col Worley thought it was a good idea and [so did members] of the American Legion and Mr. McGinnis.”
A lot of Wilson’s friends have done Eagle Projects that were more traditional, and they were a little skeptical of how his project would work. Now they’re on board and excited about the final piece of the project.
“I learned a lot about communication with other people,” he said of his project.
The community is invited to observe the flag retirement ceremony on Saturday at 11 a.m. at the Hometown Country Fair at Crescenta Valley Park, 3901 Dunsmore Ave. in La Crescenta.
Wilson is still raising funds to send the pocket flags to the troops. Anyone who would like to donate can do so by sending a check made payable to the American Legion and mailed to Kirk Wilson, 2654 Mary St., La Crescenta, CA 91214.