How to Properly Dispose of an American Flag

A Quick History of Flag Day
June 14th is National Flag Day, a day to remember America’s history and celebrate our freedom and democracy. This holiday was first proposed by a school teacher in 1885 and later recognized as a national holiday by President Truman in 1949. Throughout this week, we are encouraged to proudly hang an American flag as a sign of respect to our country.

Disposal of Old American Flags
When you take out your flag on Flag Day, you might find that it’s become torn and tattered. However, there’s no need to fret on how to dispose of it! Here is the most crucial thing you need to know: you should not throw your flag in the garbage.

Flags should always be treated with respect and honor because they represent those who worked, fought, and sacrificed their lives for our rights and freedoms. It also represents all of us; the hard-working people who make this country something to be proud of. In fact, Congress amended the Flag Code in 1976 to include the statement that the U.S. flag is a living entity and, as such, has all the rights thereof, including the right to exist and expire with dignity.

According to the U.S. Flag Code, “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning”. While this is the preferred way to dispose a flag, it can also be dangerous.

Retiring a Flag by Burning

Note: If your flag is made from nylon or polyester, do not burn it. The smoke will contain dangerous chemicals that could harm your lungs. Instead, consider taking it to a donation center or burying it.

A safer alternative to burning the flag is to donate it to your local government or other organization that accepts them.

Retiring a Flag by Burying It
Lastly, WikiHow states that you also have the option to respectfully bury the flag. You should fold the flag in the ceremonial triangle, place in a strong wooden box, and bury a few feet in the ground. Similar to burning the flag, make sure to handle it with care and consider its meaning as you bury it.

Once you’ve successfully retired your old flag, go out and buy a new one! That way, you can proudly display it on Flag Day and during the entire week. It will serve as a great reminder to yourself and your neighbors that we are lucky to live in a country that honors life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Source