Lifestyle & Seasonal

Retiring an old flag

Old flags are to be cut and burned (and ashes buried). Another option for flag retirement is to properly fold then bury it. Scouting and Veterans groups conduct ceremonies to retire flags, but you are welcome to follow proper retirement procedures at home.


The Girl Scouts of America, Boy Scouts, Baden-Powell Service Association, Campfire, etc. can take your tired banners. Scouting organizations are sanctioned by the US Government to retire American flags in honor ceremonies. In the ceremonies, usually flags are cut and burned. Cutting the flag in a certain pattern (across the middle above the red stripe and under the stars, then cut the blue star area from the rest of the stripes. See graphic) transforms the flag into 3 separate pieces of material, making it no longer a US flag, at which time it is respectful to burn. Some citizens are uncomfortable with taking scissors to a flag, but others find it offensive to burn flag in its whole form.

American Legion of Foreign Wars (aka American Legion or VFW) may a have a “flag drop” receptacle in your town. Many receptacles are reclaimed Post Office mail boxes, but the special containers come in all shapes and sizes. They will be labeled accordingly. Don’t drop your flag in a US Post Office bin!

Michael Elder, Troop 3031, breaks ground on his Ceremonial Flag Retirement Area that was made possible through EP Henry’s HeroScaping program.

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