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Eagle Scout Slashes and Burns for Badge

Burke Boy Scout Sylvester Abramowicz spent the afternoon cutting up American flags at a nearby fire station and burning them. He was following Rule 176 out of the U.S. Codebook, which was his final step to earn his Eagle Scout badge.

He admitted when envisioning a project to become an Eagle Scout, cutting up Old Glory was not on his mind.

"It does feel kind of weird cutting the American flag up," he said.

His father Sly was helping out along with his younger brother Jared and a few other scouts from troop 1966 based in Laurel Ridge Elementary school.

"It's an awareness thing, he spoke to a Cub Scout pack about it," as part of his project, Abramowicz said.

Another parent, Mark Stammer, whose son Kyle, 12, is in the troop, helped out too. Stammer is in the U.S. Army so cutting up and burning the flag was a new experience for him as well. He referred to the rule.

"This is probably just as much respect as flying it on Flag Day," he said.

SYLVESTER HAD A COPY of Rule 176 by the bin of tattered flags he'd collected. The rule is as follows:

"The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning."

"I went on the Internet and typed in 'respect for the flag rules'," Sylvester said.

He started collecting flags in November with a bin at his church and around the neighborhood. Many of them are flags that have been flying on cars or hanging outside for long periods of time since the terrorist strikes on Sept. 11. Some were dug out of the basement.

"Even before Sept. 11, people were probably storing them in their basement and they get moldy and can't be flown," he said.

ACCORDING TO THE RULES, the flags can't be cut up in any fashion; it has to be done with the blue field and stars in one piece, and each stripe by itself.

"We carefully cut out the blue because it represents the union as a whole, it has 50 stars for the 50 states," Sylvester, or "Vest" as he's known to the other scouts, said.

"I did quite a bit of research," he said.

Sly and two uncles were also eagle scouts. His father is convinced of the importance of Scouting.

"I think he's learned a lot about leadership, responsibilities and respect. What he's got out of scouting, I think all young boys should get. Tomorrow's leaders are today's kids," Abramowicz said.