Retiring the United States Flag from Service



'The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning." (The United States Flag Code) The flag should be burned at a private, non-public location. Conditions of deterioration include fading, shredding, ripping, dirt and grime that cannot be cleaned, and torn or damaged halyards and grommets that cannot be repaired.

In many American communities, one or more organizations render an important community service by collecting and overseeing the proper disposal of flags. For information in your community, try the Boy Scouts of America, Veterans of Foreign Wars, or the American Legion. If they provide a flag retirement service, the flag can be dropped off and they will perform the ceremony for several flags at the same time.

A flag retirement ceremony may also be a family activity. It provides an opportunity to teach and instruct. If retiring the flag as a family, the following steps might be considered:

1. Gather the family around. Raise the flag on the pole or staff or hold it aloft by hand.

2. Call the group to attention. Salute and recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.

3. The leader might say something like, "This flag has served its nation well and long. It is now worn to a condition in which it should no longer be used to represent the nation. We pay honor to this flag for the service it has rendered.

4. Fold the flag according to procedures explained on this site. Folding the Flag

5. Give the flag to the group leader who will burn it until it is completely consumed.