By Mary O’KEEFE
Agree or not, the First Amendment protects certain forms of symbolic speech, according to the Supreme Court. A form of symbolic speech is burning the American flag; however, for many this symbol of the United States has a very special meaning that cannot and should not be burned or just tossed away. Oftentimes that form of respect will have people saving flags for years, regardless of their appearance and even if the material is tattered.
So the question is what can be done with these flags so they are not tossed away but instead disposed of in a dignified way. On July 5 at the Glendale Police Dept. main office Boy Scout Jacob Kautzky revealed his answer to the question of what to do with old flags.
Kautzky’s Eagle Scout project was to create a receptacle where people could drop off U.S. flags they want to retire.
The idea for the project began with GPD community officer Amy Tate and an event she attended while representing the GPD.
“Amy Tate was volunteering at an event where the Verdugo Hills Boy Scout Council was,” said Kautzky’s mom Beth.
Tate wanted a box for retired flags and, after speaking with Brandon Meijia, the director of the Verdugo Hills Boy Scout Council, it sounded like this would be an Eagle Scout project that members of Troop 210 would be interested in.
Her request was taken back to Kautzky’s Troop 210 out of Burbank and presented to the Life Scouts who were present. Kautzky thought this would be the perfect Eagle Scout project for him to undertake.
“I felt I wanted a project that would last for many years,” he said.
There are many steps to an Eagle Scout project and deciding what to do is just the first. According to the Boy Scouts of America, the purpose of the Eagle Scout project is to allow Scouts to learn to plan, develop and give leadership to others. The project must meet specific criteria including benefiting the larger community. The Scout must not only plan and design his project but also must raise funds, gather volunteers and lead those volunteering during planned workdays. Scouts often end up reaching out to other businesses and researching their projects.
Kautzky said he first had to find a receptacle, or box, for the flags to be dropped into. He was able to purchase a damaged USPS mailbox that was located at a company in the Midwest. Then he had to have it shipped to his home. He found a welding company, Noel Welding, in California and had it shipped there to repair the dents.
After the repairs were made Kautzky then organized and led volunteers to paint and prep the box for artist Diane Smyres, who designed the logo, and put on the finishing touches.
On July 5 it was placed in the GPD lobby where GPD Chief Manuel Cid accepted the project. Troop 210 leader Brian Moss was also on hand to celebrate the completion of the Eagle Project.
Meijia praised Kautzky and his family for being so supportive of the Boy Scouts over the years and said how proud he was of Kautzky’s Eagle Scout project.
The first flag retirement event will be held by Troop 210 at a ceremony with the Scouts in Carpentaria from Aug. 18-20. After that the flags will continue to be collected and retired by local veteran’s groups like the American Legion Post 288 of La Crescenta.
Kautzky raised over $2,000 and had some funds left after the project was completed. He decided to donate those funds to a non-profit that supports the families of fallen law enforcement officers.