The Right Way To Dispose Of The American Flag

Patriotic Americans love to display the American flag, whether it's flown outside of their home or displayed on the inside in a dignified manner. However, there comes a time when your flag becomes too damaged to display. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, only clean and pristine American flags are fit for display, so flags with obvious visual imperfections (such as rips or stains) must be properly disposed of. However, it's important to dispose of your damaged American flags with the same dignity that you afford the one that's proudly displayed outside of your home.

According to the National Flag Foundation, the preferred method for disposing of an American flag is to burn it. This is usually done first by folding the flag using the traditional method, then placing the flag into a large enough fire so that it is completely engulfed in flames. Per the U.S. Department of Defense, you can salute the flag and cite the pledge of allegiance while the flag is burning, or hold a moment of silence to grant the flag its due dignity. After the flag is completely burned, you then bury the ashes to bring the ceremony to a close.

Other flag disposal options

Luckily for those who are squeamish around fire, there are several other convenient disposal methods that are fit for Old Glory. In fact, some flags shouldn't be burned at all, especially if they are made from toxic materials. Perhaps the best method for most people is to drop their retired flag off at a flag disposal box. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, these drop boxes can be found outside many Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) posts, as well as a number of local government offices and police stations. The flags are then distributed to various groups so that they can receive a dignified sendoff in the form of flag retirement ceremonies.

While it's not the preferred method, you can also bury your unusable American flag (per the National Flag Foundation). To do this, simply fold your flag using the traditional method and enclose it in a dignified container, such as a wooden box. After placing your retired flag in the ground and covering it with earth, you should say the pledge of allegiance or hold a moment of silence for the retired flag.