Surrounded by family, friends and onlookers Saturday, Hays High sophomore Kam Welma took pride in accomplishing a feat that has been months in the making.
On the outside, his project, a fire pit constructed of stone and mortar, is simple and unimposing. But for Welma, a member of Buda Boy Scouts Troop 967, it’s what the pit symbolizes that matters most – a place where area residents can properly and respectfully retire American flags.
That was the goal for Welma, who on Saturday officially cut the ribbon for a U.S. Flag retirement area at the Buda Veterans Memorial at Bradfield Park.
For Welma, the chance to construct something that is a benefit to the community was an enjoyable experience. Perhaps more so was the chance to retire approximately 20 donated American flags with the respect they all deserve.
“It made me feel accomplished that all of my hard work finally paid off for the flag and for the community,” Welma said. “That it will be there forever.”
Welma’s path toward crafting the retirement area began when he was a Cub Scout years ago. Welma said the troop had a flag retirement ceremony behind the Buda Fire Station on FM 2770, but burned the flag in a barbecue pit, which didn’t sit well with Welma.
“This hit me right in the feelings because it was not respectful enough,” Welma said. “So I was determined to make a proper place to retire the U.S. Flag.
The opportunity came last year when Welma looked for a community service project to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. The process started by trying to get multiple entities and people on the same page. That includes calling the city of Buda to approve the project, along with contacting a contractor to approve the project.
Welma said he had to go to different companies to ask if they could donate supplies to the project, which included crafting a donation letter.
All of the materials for the project were free and donated by several parties. The only costs was a $750 fee for masons to complete the fire pit. All told, the entire project took six weeks to finish.
Welma said his parents, Fire Chief Clay Huckaby, contractors and his Boy Scouts troop all played a key role in getting the project off of the ground.
“I feel pretty amazing knowing there is a proper place to retire a flag in my community,” Welma said.