What to do with a Damaged or Retired American Flag
The United States Flag Code dictates that any American flag that is worn, damaged or tattered beyond repair should be retired in a respectful and dignified manner. While the code allows for worn flags to be discreetly and professionally burned, there are also other options, including flag burials and – our personal favorite – donating your flag to the Stars for Our Troops program.
Flag Retirement Ceremony
If you choose to burn your damaged flag, it should be done in a discreet and professional manner. Many organizations, including the American Legion, the Boy Scouts Council and the Girl Scouts Council, will perform a flag retirement ceremony and burn your flag for you.
It also acceptable to seal an old flag in a plastic bag and bury it. The flag should be folded neatly and treated with dignity. The most important factor is showing respect to the flag during its retirement and disposal.
Stars for Our Troops
The Stars for Our Troops program takes old, tattered 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 that 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.”
To learn more about the program or to join the Gettysburg Flag Works family of “star maker” volunteers, please visit Stars for Our Troops. In addition to collecting worn flags for the program, Gettysburg Flag Works offers the packaged stars in our showroom and at events.