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.
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. You can read more HERE about how to care for your flag.
Who can retire the American Flag
Anyone. The U.S. Flag Code does not specify any one person or organization that is authorized for retiring American Flags.
An official ceremony is not required however the disposal should be private, dignified and solemn.
How do you retire the American Flag
The preferred, and often considered the most dignified, way 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:
1. Contact your local Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) post, Elks Lodge, American Legion post or similar group.
2. Recycle your American Flag. There are companies found on the internet that will accept and recycle, usually for a small fee or donation.
3. Send to the Stars for our Troops program.
The Stars for our Troops program takes your old, tattered and worn out American Flags and turns them into a prized possession for an American Soldier at home, on base or overseas. Volunteers lovingly cut each embroidered star from the flag, dispose of the stripes properly, and place each star into a tiny plastic bag with a card.
The card reads:
"I am part of our American flag that has flown over the U.S.A. I can no longer fly. The sun and winds have caused me to become tattered and torn. Please carry me as a reminder that you are not forgotten"
The program does not accept printed flags, only embroidered and the flags must be Made in the USA.
Send to the following address:
Stars for our Troops, Inc.
2 116th St, Box 301
Troy, NY 12182-0301
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