Flag Retirement

Retire your flag in a dignified and meaningful way.

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Flag Retirement is the term used to define the proper, dignified way of destroying United States flags that are no longer fit to serve the nation.

How do you know your flag should be retired?

Sometimes your flag will only need to be cleaned to restore its original appearance. Regular cleaning of your flag can extend its life considerably. Flags can be machine-washed with a mild detergent in cold water. Flags should be hung to dry or laid flat. Do not fold the flag if it is damp.

 If it is possible, mend a tattered flag at early signs of wear. The edge furthest from the staff, known as the “fly” end is usually the first part of the flag to show wear. The fly end may start to unravel due to weather conditions.

 It is really up to you to decide when your flag is ready to be retired. If the flag is unable to be repaired or is too tattered then the flag should be retired.


How to destroy an old, worn, frayed and/or faded U.S. Flags in a dignified way

The preferred and most dignified way to destroy old, worn, frayed and/or faded U.S. Flags is by burning them.


Isn’t burning the flag an act of desecration and a sign of rebellion?

No, throughout history, burning or cremation has long been considered a dignified way of paying respect to the deceased and to objects worthy of veneration. Burning has been applied to flag retirement to offer the most reverent method of final tribute. Cremation along side a veteran is meaningful to the flag donor and the family of the veteran.


Who is authorized to retire a U.S. Flag?

Anyone. The Flag code does not authorize any particular organization with the duty of retiring unfit flags. Any one person or group can do it.

 However, flags should be retired in private at a non-public location and the ceremony should be a solemn, dignified event. There is no one official ceremony required or recommended.


What are your options if your municipality prohibits open fires and/or the burning of flags?

If you live in such a community, you will need to find an organization that provides flag retirement services such as Treasured Veterans. If you don’t have one nearby, contact your local chapter, post or unit of such a community organization.