How to Retire Old Glory

There are many people out there wondering, “How do I properly dispose of my worn out American flag?” I was one of them until recently.

There are actually multiple methods to retiring an American flag.

One way to retire our flag is by ceremonially burning it.

I know some of you might have done a double take right now when I said to burn it, but yes you should ceremonially burn your old, worn-down flag.

The purpose of retiring an American flag is to give it the proper respect it deserves as a symbol of our country. So, if you decide to ceremonially burn the flag, make sure you follow these steps:

  • Make a trifold of the flag, or shred the flag correctly (cut out each of the individual stripes and leave the star field in tact.
  • Create a fire strong enough to burn the flag, but not big enough where the fire will make pieces of the flag flyaway
  • Place the trifold, or the strips followed by the field of stars, on the fire and salute it while it is burning. (You may also recite the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem during this time as well.)
  • Finally, bury the ashes in a respect place and manner.

The other way to retire the flag is by burying it.

You want to find a dignified wooden box of high quality to place the flag in. Fold the flag into a proper trifold or shred it and place in the box. Salute the flag as it is lowered in the ground and take a moment to observe and reflect on the moment. You may even make a patriotic marker to note that a flag is buried there.

If all else fails, give your flag to the boy scouts, or other institution that safely and properly retires flags. On Thursday, November 10 at 5:30pm, there will be a flag retirement ceremony at the Field of Valor. If you have a flag that needs retiring, or you are curious to see what a flag retirement ceremony looks like, please join us!