OGDEN -- The Honor Guard from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 1481 retires flags around the community almost every week.
But they had never done it at the Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind -- not until Thursday.
For Cliff Porter, one of the Honor Guard members, it was a special experience he said he will never forget.
As Porter read the ceremony speech, students at the school stood reverently holding 13 stripes, one each cut from the 13 stripes of the flag to be retired. Teachers quietly showed the students how they should hold the strip of the flag, and some of the blind students waited patiently until a strip was placed into their hands. Many of the boys participating wore Boy Scout and Cub Scout uniforms.
Deena Mulhall, executive secretary for the School of the Blind, said they wanted to let all the Scouts participate and had them come prepared and in uniform. One of the teachers interpreted Porter's words through signing, and the students watched carefully.
After each strip was cut, the students then walked just outside to a small fire and placed their strips on a stick and into the fire. Many of the students came back to watch the piece of flag burn.
"When a flag is cut, it is no longer a flag, and we then can retire it," Porter told the students.
Mike Hillstrom, director of the Deaf School, was impressed with how in-depth the ceremony was and how much his students seemed to enjoy it. He retired the star portion of the flag and signed back and forth with his students about how much they enjoyed the experience.
"I'm pleasantly surprised by the ceremony. I thought it would just be short and this was special for them," Hillstrom said.
Mulhall said the idea came about after the strong winds lately.
"Our school is in a place that really gets hit by the wind," she added.
As the school leaders discussed what to do with the old flag they decided it would be a good idea to include the students in the flag retirement so they could learn some things.
Hillstrom said the school has been working hard to teach the students about their country. "The teachers want to give them an awareness of country and a respect," he said.
Students also participated in a special Veteran's Day program last month.
Eight-year-old Boston Gunther said he enjoyed participating in the retirement. He wore his bright blue Cub Scout shirt for the occasion.
"We represented people who died and then gave us life," Gunther said through sign language.
He described how he participated in burning his piece of the flag and how cool he thought it was.
"I gave it to the soldier, and he put it on the fire," he said, referring to the Honor Guard member.
Hillstrom smiled as Gunther described it. Mulhall said she hoped that it would be something the students would remember.