How Do You Properly Dispose Of An American Flag?
Memorial Day is right around the corner, and one listener wanted to know the answer to one specific question. How do you properly dispose of an American flag?
I have a flag that's ripped. I don't really know what to do when it comes to respectfully disposing of it. I've heard some things, but didn't know the full truth behind it - so I figured I would ask. I don't need people looking at me weird like I don't know what I'm doing.
Unfortunately, I can't help with the looks people are giving you. But I can give you some tips about what exactly to do if you have a flag that's in pretty rough shape and can't be flown..
Let's start out with this: The United States Flag Code (4 USC Sec 8 Para (k) Amended 7 July 1976) says "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."
According to the VFW, the flag should be folded in its customary manner. If you don't know how to fold a flag properly, read how, here. It is important that the fire be fairly large and intense enough to ensure complete burning of the flag. From there, you place the flag in the fire.. If you want, you can have a moment of silence or say the Pledge of Allegiance. After the flag has completely burned, the fire needs to be safely and completely extinguished. Collect the ashes and then bury them. Please be sure to follow fire ordinance laws, though.
There's also some other ways you can dispose of your flag!
American Disposal Services says you may choose to bury it. "To bury the flag, begin by finding a dignified wooden box - it should be of good quality and construction, as this box will serve as the flag's vessel as it is interred in the ground. Fold the flag correctly and respectfully then place it in the box. Give a speech on the importance of the flag then stand at attention as the flag is lowered into the ground. Observe a moment of silence as the flag is buried. You may even choose to mark the burial location with a small, patriotic marker."
Another way you can properly dispose of your flag is by bringing it in to specific United States government organizations! They offer services to conduct the ceremony to properly dispose of flags for no charge, upon request.
The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Boy and Girl Scouts of America and the US Military all provide this service. I called around to several today in Central NY, all said you can bring it in (but call them first.)
If you have flags lying around that you aren't sure what to do with, hopefully this helps!