How To Dispose Of A Worn American Flag

Here are three ways to dispose of an American flag that has become unfit for display including proper folding and ceremonial guidelines.

The American Flag has been a highly respected and much revered symbol for the United States for nearly 230 years. We fly the American flag to show our patriotism, love for and loyalty to the United States. We fly them from poles, lanyards, windows and cars and trucks. Some flags are flown every minute of every day and others are flown only on certain days. Depending on when and where a flag is displayed, environmental factors surrounding the flag and quality of the material, a flag can wear out very quickly.

It is not respectful to display an American flag when it is faded, worn or torn. An outdoor American flag can be laundered in a mild detergent, either by hand or using the delicate setting on your machine, and rinsed thoroughly. Indoor flags and those used in parades should be dry cleaned. Some dry cleaning businesses offer free dry cleaning of American flags during the months of June and July. Flags can also be repaired so long as the dimensions of the flag are not distorted or noticeably altered. When a flag becomes unfit for display it is necessary to replace it.

Disposal of a faded or worn American flag is to be done in one of three ways. You can, if necessary, put the flag out for collection only after you have removed the blue field from the flag. The blue field is to be burned in a peaceful manner and the ashes buried. You can also give the flag to any American Legion, VFW or government office as they will know where to send the flag for proper disposal. They may even suggest a local Boy Scout Troop or organization where public ceremonies are held to discharge flags from service.



The other method is to burn the flag yourself in a proper ceremony. If you are able to personally discharge your worn flag from service the ceremony that follows is the proper way.

The flag must be folded in the customary triangle fold. To do this, hold the flag parallel to the floor waist high with another person (the flag is not to touch the floor). Now fold the flag lengthwise by folding the lower half of the stripes over the stars. Fold the flag in half lengthwise again bringing the other side over to show the blue field on top. With the flag folded in quarters lengthwise, start at the bottom and make a triangular fold by bringing the folded edge of the stripes up and over to the open edge of the stripes. Then fold the triangle you have created up so the point is inward and the edge is parallel with the rest of the flag. Continue folding the flag in this manner until you reach the end. There will be some flag left over and this is to be tucked into the fold of the triangle.

With the flag folded properly you are ready to place the flag into a fire. You have to be sure that the fire is both large enough and hot enough to completely burn the flag down to ashes. With the fire ready you can now place the flag upon the fire. You can stand at attention, salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and have a brief period of silent reflection or a moment of silence. Once the flag has been burned completely to ashes the fire should be extinguished. The ashes are now to be gathered and buried.

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