Proper ways to retire American flag


Kelly Hopkins - Contributing columnist



This will be a short column, but I think with the recent incident in our community — and as a veteran — I wish to assist our great community in educating on the proper way to “retire” our American flags.

First, the United States flag code states that, “the flag, when in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

Thus, when a flag is torn and tattered beyond repair, it’s time for it to be retired. There is also no size limit on what constitutes an American flag.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6710 and the American Legion Post 49 both have retired flag boxes on the outside of their Posts. Flags can be dropped off at anytime of the year at no cost.

Both organizations also perform the United States Flag Retirement Ceremony a few times a year, usually conducted on June 4 each year on our National Flag Day, or, to us soldiers, the U.S. Army Birthday.

Again, the preferable way of retiring our American flag is by burning; before you get upset, there is a proper way this is conducted. First, the flag is folded correctly and laid on a fire. It is given a salute and at the ceremony the Pledge of Allegiance is cited and the National Anthem is sung.

The other option of retiring the American flag is to have a burial. This requires the American flag to be placed in a wooden box and interred in the ground. A funeral is given and the ground is marked with a marker.

So, before you just dispose of an American flag, please first stop and give it the respect and drop it off or conduct a United States Flag Retirement Ceremony.

Kelly Hopkins is the Past All-State Post Commander for the VFW Post 6710, President of the Clinton County Leadership Institute and Chief Bailiff of the Clinton County Common Pleas Court.

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Kelly Hopkins

Contributing columnist