What Is The Best Way To Dispose Of An Old American Flag

What Is The Best Way To Dispose Of An Old American Flag

What Is The Best Way To Dispose Of An Old American Flag

Honoring the Old Glory: The Proper Way to Dispose of an American Flag

The American flag, a timeless symbol of unity, patriotism, and sacrifice, holds a profound significance for every American. As with all cherished symbols, the disposal of an old flag must be conducted with dignity and respect. This article delves into the various ways to dispose of an American flag properly, ensuring its honorable retirement.

Meaningful Retirement Options

According to the United States Flag Code, the official guidelines for the treatment and disposal of the American flag, there are three recommended methods for retiring an old flag:

1. Burning:

  • Choose a private and respectful setting, away from public view.
  • Fold the flag into a triangle, with the union (blue field with 50 stars) facing out.
  • Ignite the flag in a safe and controlled manner, such as in a fireplace or burn barrel.
  • As the flag burns, stand at attention or salute.
  • Scatter the ashes respectfully.

2. Burial:

  • Dig a small hole in a secluded location where it will not be disturbed.
  • Place the folded flag in the hole.
  • Cover the flag with soil and recite a short prayer or moment of silence.
  • Mark the location with a simple headstone or plaque.

3. Recycling:

  • Contact local veterans’ organizations, such as the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).
  • They often have programs in place to collect and recycle old flags.
  • The flags are then respectfully disposed of through burning or other approved methods.

Additional Considerations

  • Never dispose of a flag in the trash: This is considered an act of disrespect and is prohibited by law.
  • Torn or faded flags: It is still acceptable to retire torn or faded flags, as long as they are folded respectfully.
  • Flag disposal ceremonies: Some communities hold annual flag disposal ceremonies where citizens can bring their old flags to be retired properly.
  • Dispose of one flag at a time: Avoid burning or burying multiple flags together, as each flag deserves its own respectful retirement.


Q: What is the proper way to fold a flag for burning or burial?

A: Triangularly, with the union (blue field with 50 stars) facing out.

Q: Can I fly a torn or faded flag?

A: No, it is not considered respectful to fly a torn or faded flag.

Q: Where can I find a local veterans’ organization to recycle my old flag?

A: Contact your local American Legion or VFW post for information.

Q: Is it acceptable to repurpose an old flag?

A: No, the flag should be retired properly and not used for any other purpose.

Q: What should I do if I witness someone improperly disposing of a flag?

A: Approach them politely and offer to help them dispose of the flag correctly.


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