PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Thanks to the work of a local Boy Scout, members of the community have a place to properly dispose of American flags that have become worn and no longer fit for use.
Orion Ouellette, 13, a member of Boy Scout Troop 171 in Presque Isle, recently designed, built and painted a flag retirement box that will be available for the public to dispose of their flags at S.W. Collins Company’s Presque Isle location starting on Tuesday, May 28.
Ouellette developed the project in his efforts to earn the Boy Scouts of America’s James M. Stewart Good Citizenship Award.
Ouellette is a Star Scout, which is the third highest Boy Scout ranking, and has received 53 merit badges. After realizing that the city had no designated flag retirement box, he saw the Good Citizenship project as his opportunity to give back to local veterans and show the love he has for his country.
“I thought that people should have a place to dispose of their flags properly,” he said. “Since we didn’t have a flag box in Presque Isle, I thought building one would be a good idea.”
Together Ouellette and his mother, Renee Ouellette, spoke to area business owners in order to obtain donated materials for the building project.
S.W. Collins donated lumber, a mail slot and paint, while Jeff’s Sales and Service provided a side-by-side trailer to display the flag retirement box during the city’s Memorial Day parade on May 27. Cushman and Sons donated a gold plaque that describes the purpose of the box and thanks community donors.
Spencer Bragan, building trades instructor at Presque Isle High School’s Regional Career and Technical Center and Orion’s merit badge counselor, helped Orion construct the box. He thinks that the project is a great one to show how committed the Scouts are to honoring and supporting veterans.
“The Scouts are always looking for ways to serve their community and this is an example of Orion seeing a need and working to fulfill it,” Bragan said.
Renee Ouellette said that Orion has spent at least 25 to 30 hours working on the retirement box project. She helped Orion paint the box, the top of which is adorned as an American flag. The front of the box bears the image of a bald eagle’s face in the middle of an American flag, set against a bright blue sky with white clouds.
To get the eagle just right, Ouellette printed a photo of a bald eagle and traced the face onto the box using transfer paper.
The project also carries a more personal meaning for Ouellette. His maternal grandfather and great-grandfather served in the U.S. Army National Guard and Navy, respectively. He also has a maternal uncle who served in the U.S. Air Force.
“He wanted a design that was very patriotic,” Renee Ouellette said. “I’m most proud that Orion thought about how he could best serve his community instead of just wanting to win the award. It’s a project that will carry on into the future.”
Boy Scout Troop 171 plans to honor formerly used American flags, as they have traditionally done, during their Spring Camporee. Orion Ouellette hopes that people in Presque Isle and surrounding communities will take advantage of the flag retirement box.
“I like hands-on projects and so I enjoyed building and painting the box,” Ouellette said. “It’s a way for me to serve the veterans.”