When Brandon Fine started thinking about his Eagle Scout project, he found inspiration from his grandfather, who passed away about 10 years ago.
Fine, a 17-year-old Niskayuna High School senior, joined Cub Scouts when he was in elementary school after his father urged him and his brother to take part in the group he wished he had joined as a child. After several years of dedication to Boy Scout Troop 34, Fine is collecting old, worn American flags for his Eagle Scout project.
“This project especially has opened my eyes to a lot of things that I didn’t think I would be able to do and that’s something I can really thank my dad and the Boy Scouts for,” Fine said.
Fine’s grandfather was a World War II and Korean War veteran serving in the Navy and his “love and respect” for the flag left an impression on his progeny. Fine said he always respected his grandfather as a patriotic person.
After asking around, he said many people didn’t seem to know how to properly dispose of an American flag, which should be buried or burned through a formal ceremony.
“He always hated to see people misuse it or not know what the proper ways to retire an old flag were,” Fine said. “I thought this project would be something that would not only keep my grandfather’s respect for the flag … but it would also give people an opportunity to learn and dispose of their flags in the proper way.”
His crossing over ceremony in fifth grade, marking the transition from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts, was a moment that has stuck with him along his journey.
“Crossing the bridge and joining these bunch of older guys, all these new kids, it just felt like it was going to be a good experience,” Fine said. “Since then, I’ve learned a lot about not only camping and the skills that go along with the Boy Scouts, but I’ve learned a lot about myself and what is expected of you in the future.”
He’s made friends through scouts and what first kept him interested was the “sense of achievement” in acquiring the next rank. As he got older, it become less about “getting the new badge” and more about understanding “a certain part of life,” such as working together with other people, taking responsibility and reaching out to adults.
Fine has partnered with American Legion Post 1092 to properly dispose of flags through its periodic ceremonies. He started planning the project in the summer and there are now boxes in several locations, including Niskayuna Town Hall, Rotterdam Square Mall, Wilton Mall and another, hopefully, coming at the Colonie Town Library.
Town Supervisor Joe Landry thanked Fine and American Legion members for properly disposing of flags.
“We are very proud of the work Eagle Scout candidate Brandon Fine has done to spread the message of patriotism, and to honor the flag of our nation,” Landry said in a statement. “We are privileged to designate Town Hall as a flag retirement center, and we encourage residents to properly dispose of American flags by putting them in the receptacle provided in the foyer at Town Hall.”
Due to solicitation policies, Fine said he had some trouble getting the boxes placed at some area businesses.
“I got turned back a couple of times,” Fine said. “Over said the past few months I learned a lot about having to persevere, and it is not always going to be as easy as you think.”