How To Dispose Of A Used American Flag

How To Dispose Of A Used American Flag

How To Dispose Of A Used American Flag

Honoring the Legacy: A Comprehensive Guide to Disposing of an American Flag

The American flag is a cherished symbol of our nation, embodying freedom, unity, and the unwavering spirit of the American people. As such, its proper disposal holds immense significance, ensuring that this iconic representation of our country is handled with the utmost respect and dignity.

Ethics of Flag Disposal

According to the United States Flag Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8 of the U.S. Code, the American flag should never be allowed to touch the ground or be subjected to indignity. The Flag Code further mandates that when a flag becomes worn or no longer fit for display, it should be disposed of in a dignified and respectful manner.

Proper Flag Disposal Protocol

1. Burning:

  • The most traditional method of flag disposal is through burning. However, this method must be carried out in a safe and respectful manner.
  • Select a location where the flag can be burned away from any flammable materials or buildings.
  • Create a small bonfire or pit, and ensure that the flag is completely consumed by the flames.
  • After the flag has been burned, collect the ashes and bury them in a dignified manner.

2. Burial:

  • This method involves burying the flag in a respectful and meaningful location.
  • Choose a location where the flag will not be disturbed or damaged.
  • Dig a small hole, preferably six inches deep and wide, and place the flag inside.
  • Cover the flag with soil and mark the spot if desired.

3. Contacting Authorized Organizations:

  • Several organizations accept worn or damaged American flags for proper disposal. These organizations often have specialized facilities and protocols for handling flags respectfully.
  • Contact local veterans’ groups, the Boy Scouts of America, or the American Legion for assistance.

4. Flag Retirement Ceremony:

  • For larger flags or those with significant historical value, a formal flag retirement ceremony may be appropriate.
  • Such ceremonies typically involve folding the flag in a triangular shape, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, and conducting a respectful burning or burial.

Additional Considerations:

  • Before disposing of a flag, ensure that any decorations or embellishments, such as medals or pins, are removed.
  • If the flag is made of a synthetic material, such as nylon, it should not be burned, as it may release toxic fumes. Instead, bury it or dispose of it through an authorized organization.
  • Always handle the flag with care and respect throughout the disposal process.


1. What is the best way to dispose of a flag?

The preferred method is burning, burial, or contacting authorized organizations.

2. Can I throw away a flag in the trash?

No, discarding a flag in the trash is disrespectful and against the Flag Code.

3. Where can I bury the ashes of a burned flag?

In a meaningful and respectful location away from disturbances.

4. What if I have a very large flag?

Contact a local veterans’ group or the American Legion for assistance with a formal flag retirement ceremony.

5. What if the flag is synthetic?

Do not burn synthetic flags. Instead, bury them or dispose of them through authorized organizations.


Disposing of an American flag is not merely a task but an act of profound respect and gratitude. By adhering to the proper disposal protocols, we honor the legacy of our nation and preserve the dignity of this cherished symbol. Let us all strive to treat the American flag with the reverence it deserves, both during its display and its eventual disposal.


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