How To Retire An American Flag

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Theres A Right Way To Retire Old Glory

How to properly retire an American flag

Bruce Hamilton, The Morning Show anchor

ORLANDO, Fla. We all know the Fourth of July is a day to celebrate Americas birthday, but the idea of celebrating the flag is believed to have originated in 1885.

It started with a school teacher in Wisconsin who wanted to celebrate what was then the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of the Stars and Stripes, News 6 partner WJXT-TV reported.

Now, we recognize Flag Day every June 14.

And 244 years after the United States adopted the Stars and Stripes, do you know the right way to honor Old Glory and dispose of her if she becomes torn, soiled and tattered or just worn out?

According to the U.S. Flag Code, when a flag is so damaged that it no longer can serve as a symbol of the country, it should be retired in a dignified way. The preferred method is burning it. But before doing that, you should shred the flag by separating the 13 stripes and leaving the blue spangled field intact.

You can also bury your flag in a wooden vessel, but it has to be folded correctly first.

You can watch the tutorial above by The 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment or follow these steps:

There are a number of organizations that help with flag disposal. Among them are American Legion and VFW Posts, as well as the Boy Scouts of America.

About the Author:

Recycle Your American Flag

Instead of disposing your American flag, you may want to recycle it. There are several companies that will gladly take your worn, battered and torn American flag, breaking it down for use in a new flag. A simple Google search for American flag recycling will yield dozens if not hundreds of choices. Or when Flag Day rolls around , some local establishments in your city may accept American flags for the purpose of recycling.

How To Retire Your American Flag

American Flags Made In USA, blog
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american flag, american flag made in american, american flag made in USA, american made flags, ND flag pole guy

Flying an American flag is a great way to display your patriotism. But overtime your flag is exposed to wind, rain, varying temperatures and other natural elements that cause wear and tear. So, how do you know when its time to retire your American Flag?

According to the American Flag Code, when your flag is, No longer a fiting emblem for display, is when its ready to retire. In this blog we are going to discuss the proper ways to retire your flag. If youre ready to purchase a new American flag made in the USA, contact the ND Flag Pole Guy we have a selection of all different sized flags to fit your needs.

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Flag Retirement: How To Properly Retire An American Flag

The United States Flag Code, Title 4, Section 8k 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.

Flag Retirement is the term used to define the proper, dignified way of destroying United States flags that are no longer fit to serve the nation.

How To Retire Your Worn Or Faded Old Glory In Williamson County

Union Wireless. The American Flag: Displaying and Retiring

The American Creed states, “We retire flags with dignity and respect when they become worn, torn, faded, or badly soiled.”Williamson County Material Recovery FacilityLandfill Convenience CenterWilliamson County Archives & MuseumFranklin City HallPartnerships Why Retire Flags?“the United States flag should be treated with respect when it’s flying, and it should be treated with respect when it’s being retired”“I am your flag, I was born on June 14, 1777. I am more than just a piece of cloth shaped into a colorful design I am the silent sentinel of freedom for the greatest sovereign nation on earth. I am the inspiration for which America patriots gave their lives and fortunes I am the emblem of America.”For more information, please call the county recycling specialist at 786-0166.

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Care For The Us Flag With Naco

Since 2016, the National Association of Counties has provided over 2,000 counties, parishes and boroughs with official flag retirement boxes.Helping residents properly retire worn U.S. flags is consistent with NACos commitment to public service and community engagement.

Our Nations FlagLearn more about the U.S. Flag Code and proper flag retirement.

When an American flag becomes worn out or torn, the U.S. Flag Code dictates how to respectfully retire it. Too many of our residents are unsure of how to care for our nations symbol, and county leaders can play a key role in informing them.

Counties, parishes and boroughs have partnered with local groups to collect flags ready for retirement and hold retirement ceremonies.

Follow An Approved Recycling Technique

The idea behind recycling your flag is that once it is cut up, its technically no longer a flag. There are specific guidelines that must be followed, and you especially cannot cut through the blue star field. This is not a traditional option, and is considered less ceremonial. However, not everyone has the space for a proper ceremony and flag burning, so this another option that will allow you to properly retire your flag.

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When Should You Retire Your American Flag

It’s up to you. Most people retire their flag once it has become tattered or faded. Keep in mind that you are able to wash and repair your flag to help extend its life. We recommend using a mild detergent on a gentle cycle with cold water. Learn more about how to properly care for your American flag here.

Replies To How To Properly Retire An American Flag

Boy Scouts show how to properly retire an American flag this Independence Day
  • Ken Kackleysays:May 7, 2014 at 7:46 AM

    On 16 May 2014 the Friends Of Vets, Cops and Fire Fighters will hold our 6th Flag Retirement Ceremony at the Wilson County Fair Ground, Tennessee. About 300 flags will be retired paying tribute and honoring Veterans, Cops and Fire Fighters who have served or are serving. After the ceremony the flag attachment rings are cleaned and given to Vets, Cops and Fire Fighters to put on their key ring to carry as a reminder that they are thanked for their services.The flags are retired by Veterans,Cops Fire Fighters,Young Marines and Police Cadets.

  • Thanks for the update! Sounds like a really honorable event! Do you have a press release or website that we can share on our twitter account or on our blog?

    -CVS Flags

  • I have retired many flags. I am a Triple palmed EAGLE SCOUT and BROTHERHOOD IN THE ORDER OF THE ARROW. EX US ARMY COMBAT MEDIC VIETNAM ERA. I take this very serious. Many men and women died for my flag. GOD BLESS AMERICA.

  • I was never taught in school how to properly handle an American Flag. My dad taught me since early on and I am passing that respect onto my son who at age 5, already knows that Veterans died for that flag and never to let it touch the ground.

  • Im not a boy scout but one i decided to learn how to take care of the flag. But you can only do it in 5/6 grade in my school So every frickin day I watch these people practically fold the flag in a ball and put it up terribly.

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    Rotc Students Retire American Flag Clean Headstones At Zephyrhills Cemetery

    Jennifer Holton reports.

    ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla. – Practice makes perfect for Zachariah Arnold, a lieutenant colonel with the Junior ROTC at Zephyrhills High School.

    Arnold and 34 other cadets carried out “Project Patriotism” Friday morning at Oakside Cemetery, which started with a ceremonial flag burning.

    Army veteran Jimmy McAuley leads the JROTC program at Zephyrhills High, he says teaching the cadets how to properly retire an American flag is paramount.

    “They did a phenomenal job as far as getting prepared, rehearsing, they did it all by themselves,” he said. “I come out here and help facilitate, but theyre required to do all of the leg work.

    McAuley says the students went to the city hall to request funds for this event, the city was able to provide them with $600 for the supplies.

    But before the morning was done, the cadets spent some time reflecting on the past by cleaning the headstones of veterans who came before them.

    “It just symbolizes honor, and I just feel honored to do this for the veterans and for the people who died for our country,” said Senior Victoria Reitmeyer. “I love it. Its amazing to me. I just love it.”

    Reitmeyer and freshman cadet Ashton Baker come from big military families, and theyre both considering joining the Army. Reitmeyer says however, shes also considering the Marine Corps.

    “My brother, my older brother, was actually in this ROTC program not too long ago,” said Baker.

    How Do I Retire An American Flag

    The U.S. Flag Code states, 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. While this is the preferred way to dispose a flag, it can be dangerous.

    According to WikiHow and VFW.org there are certain steps to safely and properly burn and retire a flag.

    • If you plan on burning in an open area, obtain a permit through the Illinois EPA. Permits are free and should arrive within 90 days of application.
    • Build a medium sized bonfire away from buildings or trees. Clear away any debris because not only is it a safety hazard, but it isnt respectful of the flag.
    • Place the flag in the fire when its burning strongly, but it isnt so heightened that flag pieces would start to blow away. Another safety tip is to never burn the flag on a windy day because the flag could blow away while on fire, which would be a huge fire hazard.
    • Fold the flag, preferably in the ceremonial triangle. Make sure it doesnt touch the ground and that its handled with care. Place the flag into the fire.
    • Be respectful while the flag is burning. You can take a moment to reflect on its meaning or recite the Pledge of Allegiance if youd like.
    • Make sure that the flag has completely burned and only the ashes remain. You can let the fire die down, while watching it the whole time, or put it out on your own.
    • Ace Hardware

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    Conduct Your Own Flag Burning Ceremony

    Conducting your own flag retirement ceremony will take some research and extra work, but in the end it will be worth it to have your flag retired the proper way. If you choose to take on this responsibility yourself, you must have time and patience to ensure that your flag is retired with care. Requirements for flag burning include that the ceremony should be conducted with dignity and respect, and that the flag must be burned completely to ashes.

    Retiring your flag yourself is not for everyone. If you are unsure if you can properly carry out this ceremony, try contacting the ND Flag Pole Guy. You can simply send your flag in to us in the provided box, and we will retire it with dignity.

    How To Retire Old Glory: Respect The Flag And The Environment

    How to Retire the American Flag [Infographic]

    Lots of people fly the American flag to show their appreciation for our countrys history and freedoms. If you fly a flag it will inevitably become worn and tattered and leave you with the dilemma of how to dispose of it.

    When to Retire

    Are you unsure about whether your flag needs to be retired? According to the Flag Code, when is in such a condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way. The American Legions Top Ten Flag Myths can help you decide. For example, you can continue to use a flag that has touched the ground or covered a casket.

    Ceremonial Burning, Dignified butSafe?

    American flags can be retired through a ceremonial burning. Many organizations such as American Legion, local VFWs, and Boy Scout Troops accept flags for burning and will properly retire your flag. However, burning synthetic flags, such as nylon, creates hazardous fumes which are harmful to human health and the environment. Its become a bit of a quandary for scout troops and veterans organizations alike.

    Keep in mind, the traditional method was suggested in 1923 when synthetic fabrics were very uncommon. Some municipalities such as Spokane, Washington have gone so far as to ban the burning of synthetic flags out of concern for air quality. Fortunately, as the Boy Scouts of America notes, there are other respectful ways to dispose of your flag.

    DIY Retirement

    Heres their recommended method:

  • Stretch out the corners of the flag.
  • Make It Last

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    Ceremony Of Final Tribute To The American Flag

    This ceremony should be conducted at a private, non-public location.

    • Only one Flag, representing all those to be destroyed, should be used in the ceremony.
    • Two color guards should be used at evening retreat, one for the Flag currently in use and a special color guard for the Flag to be permanently retired.
    • Just before sunset, the Flag that has been flying all day is retired in the normal, ceremonial procedure for the group or site.
    • The color guard responsible for the Flag receiving the final tribute moves front and center. The leader should present this color guard with the Flag that has been selected for its final tribute and subsequent destruction. The leader then should instruct the color guard to “hoist the colors”.
    • When the Flag has been secured at the top of the pole, the leader comments:
    • “This Flag has served its nation long and well. It has worn to a condition to which it should no longer be used to represent the nation. This Flag represents all of the Flags collected and being retired from service today. We honor them all as we salute one Flag.”
    • The leader then calls the group to attention, orders a salute, leads the entire group in the “Pledge of Allegiance” and orders the Flag retired by the color guard.
    • Slowly and ceremoniously, the flag is lowered, and then respectfully folded in the customary triangle. The Flag is delivered to the leader and then the group is dismissed.

    Why Retire A Us Flag

    Over time, the elements cause even the most durable flags to become tattered or faded, even if you wash and repair the flag correctly to extend its life.

    But flying a flag that no longer looks its best is the equivalent of a military officer wearing a tattered or dirty uniform: It disrespects the institution to which it refers.

    In this case, you should get rid of the old flag carefully and replace it with a new, pristine flag to properly showcase the respect you feel for our country.

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    Ceremony Of Final Tribute:

  • Only one flag should be used in the ceremony, which is representative of all the flags to be burned in the service. The remainder of the flags collected should be incinerated. A corporate, government, or military incinerator or furnace can usually be found for this purpose.
  • The ceremony should be conducted out-of-doors, preferably in conjunction with a campfire program, and it should be very special.
  • The ceremony involves two color guards, one for the flag currently in use and a special color guard for the flag to be retired from service. Of course, this may be adapted if conditions necessitate.
  • Just before sunset the flag which has been flying all day is retired in the normal ceremonial procedure for that location or group.
  • The color guard responsible for the flag receiving the final tribute moves to front and center. The leader should present this color guard with the flag which has been selected for its final tribute and subsequent destruction. The leader should instruct the color guard to “hoist the colors.”
  • Leader comments:

    “This flag has served its nation well and long. It has worn to a condition in which it should no longer be used to represent the nation.”

    “This flag represents all of the flags collected and being retired from service today. The honor we show here this evening for this one flag, we are showing for all of the flags, even those not physically here.”

  • The leader should:
  • Order a salute
  • Lead the entire group in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag and
  • How Do You Retire The American Flag Properly

    The right way to retire an American flag

    The preferred, and often considered the most dignified, way to retire an American flag is to burn it. As stated above, the action of doing so must be dignified and the flag must be completely burned to ashes.

    We realize that burning may not always be an option and some burned American Flag materials are not good for the environment. Listed below are a few other options when it comes to properly retiring an American Flag:

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    The Proper Display Of The American Flag

    • The union should be at the peak of the staff when displayed from a staff projecting from a building.
    • Display the flag flat, whether indoors, outside or suspended so that its folds fall freely as though staffed.
    • Suspend the flag vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street, or to the east in a north and south street, when displayed over a street.
    • In a church or auditorium, the flag should occupy the position of honor and reside at a speakers right as they face the audience.
    • At half-staff, hoist the flag first to the peak for an instant and then lower it to half-staff position. It should again raise to the peak before being lowered for the day.

    This blog post answers the questions:

    • How to retire a flag?
    • How to retire an American flag?
    • How do you properly display the American flag?

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