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Scout spreads the word about proper handling of flags

Greg Sacenti (front right) and his troop burn flags at St. Paul's Lutheran Church
By Danielle Paine

Reminder Assistant Editor

EAST LONGMEADOW - When Greg Sacenti envisioned the project that would earn him the Boy Scouts of America's prestigious Eagle Scout ranking, he saw stars and stripes.

A history buff and aspiring military officer, Sacenti's biggest pet peeve is the rampant mishandling of American Flags. Seeing one rolled up into a ball and tossed on a counter and another thrown away with the garbage, gave him the idea to spread the word about proper flag handling and to collect old flags for the required ceremony to burn and dispose of them respectfully.

"I wanted to do something that made me feel like I actually earned the rank," Sacenti said. "Something that would effect a lot of people."

Sacenti successfully reached thousands by netting 130 old flags for his ceremony and by distributing 2,500 pamphlets he authored to inform the public on flag rules and regulations.

He learned many of these rules himself when Congressman Richard Neal gave Sacenti a flag flown over the statehouse. Enclosed with it was a booklet regauging the care of flags. Many of these facts were complied with Sacenti's research to make his own informational hand-out.

That flag, was mounted into a display case, purchase by Sacenti's troop and was donated to the East Longmeadow Public Library.

"So many people have died and worked hard for this flag and this country," Sacenti said. "To disrespect that is to ignore every life or all of the service put into this country. It is more than a symbol."

A boy scout for five years and now a senior patrol leader, Sacenti will explain his project to a formal review board on May 8 before receiving the scout's highest honor. In total, Sacenti put more than 60 hours of time into the project, combined with the efforts of his troop combined, the group neared 100 hours of work.

Aside from the labor of collecting flags and distributing flyers, 11 scouts helped in the formal flag burning ceremony at St. Paul's Lutheran Church on April 26.

"It's going to be a great weight off my shoulders and I'll feel like I've accomplished something that most kids don't even think about doing," Sacenti said about his upcoming review.

Although Sacenti will be going off to college this fall and then into military service, he plans on staying involved with scouting through the years.

"Scouting will always be a big part of my life," he said. "I truly believe they are a fundamental part of growing up and anyone who is involved in scouting is better off for it."

Flag care facts:

  • Display the flag only from sunrise to sundown on buildings or stationary Flagstaff. 24-hour display is allowed only if there is at least one light directly illuminating the flag.

  • The flag needs to be hoisted briskly and lowered slowly

  • Do not display when weather is inclement.

  • On Memorial Day, the flag should remain at half-staff until noon.

  • The flag may only be presented on a motorcar when it is attached to a staff that is firmly attached to the chassis or the right fender.

  • When flown half-staff the flag should be first hoisted to the peak for a brief second then lowered to half-staff.