Retiring the American Flag | Proper Disposal of American Flags

How and When to Retire Your American Flag

According to the National Flag Foundation, a flag may be mended when torn and cleaned when dirty. If mended it should not be hemmed (shortened) to the point where its measurements are no longer in proportion. Even though you’ve cared for your American flag, there will come a time to retire Old Glory.

The United States Flag Code states: "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.”

NFF says one or more organizations render this important community service by collecting and overseeing the proper disposal of old, worn, tattered, frayed and/or faded U.S. 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 take care of the ceremony.  You can always return you flag to All Star Flags and we will see that is properly retired.

Each flag retirement ceremony may vary slightly, but the common and crucial element to any flag retirement ceremony is that the flag is retired in a dignified manner.  A sample of a proper flag disposal ceremony might be as follows:

-Gather and pay respect to the American Flag.  This can be done in a variety of ways.  Many times a ceremony begins with reciting the Pledge of Allegiance to the flag.

-Normally a statement will be made by the ceremony leader addressing that the flag has served its nation well and is now worn to a condition that it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of its nation.

-If the flag has been folded, the flag is then placed ceremoniously into the fire.

-If the flag is unfolded; it can be folded and then placed in the fire OR the flag can be cut into pieces.  The stripes are to be cut apart from the canton and then the stripes are cut apart from one another.  The stripes are placed in the fire first and should be allowed to burn completely.  Then the canton of the flag is placed into the fire and it will be allowed to burn completely.

-Some ceremonies are conducted with patriotic music playing while others are performed with a quiet, solemn tone.

However you decide to perform your retiring the American flag ceremony, make certain that flag is destroyed in a dignified manner! Contact us at All Star Flags with any questions or feel free to send you flag into us for proper retirement.


By Chad Creech, All Star Flags