Do you know how to dispose of an old American Flag?

How and when to properly dispose of an old American Flag

Submitted 3 months ago
Created by
Demo sofronas

There are several proper ways to do this

Retiring an American Flag.


 4th of July has come and gone, and as we look forward to barbecues and fireworks this summer, we will no doubt be producing more trash and recycling. When we think of items that we regularly throw away or recycle, the American Flag doesn't often come to mind.
That's because we hang them proudly; and the thought of throwing them in the garbage bin (or even the recycling bin) would feel unpatriotic. But many of us know it is far worse to hang a tattered or damaged flag than to dispose of it-properly. So what is the proper and respectful way to dispose of an American Flag?

For this story, I am supplying information  and photos that I found to be very interesting and have given the proper credit to American Disposal Services which published the following blog: 

American Disposal Services blog page gives the correct facts on how to dispose of and recycle a variety of materials in their monthly newsletter. When it comes to retiring your American flag, They couldn't think of a better time to provide you with this specialty information to ensure that your flag doesn't sit gathering dust in a basement, or worse-yet end up in your trash can.


But first, let's define what an official American flag is: The U.S. Flag consists of a blue rectangle bearing 50 white stars (representing each state) and 13 alternating red and white stripes (representing the 13 original colonies).

This is common knowledge to most of us, but we just wanted to ensure you that the following disposal methods are only required for official American Flags. (Flag patterned bandanas and board shorts need not apply, even in July).

Ceremonial Flag Burning

Flag Burning

It may come as a surprise to many that one of the proper methods of retiring your tattered or damaged flag is in fact-to burn it. But before you gasp at the thought (as I did before I read on in my research on this topic), according to Wikipedia, the burning ceremony is in no way haphazard, rather it requires a specific ceremony. The flag is folded correctly, laid on a bonfire and burned patriotically, while being saluted, or having someone at the burning ceremony recite the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the National Anthem.

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This process is used mainly for individuals retiring their personal flags at home. But what if you don't feel comfortable burning your flag on your own? What if you don't know how to properly fold a flag? (In case you were wondering...

But more logically...what if you simply can't build a fire on your own property? Rest easy, there are many other methods to choose from when you are ready to retire your flag.

Flag Burial

If you cannot burn a flag, you may choose to bury it. To bury the flag, begin by finding a dignified wooden box - it should be of good quality and construction, as this box will serve as the flag's vessel as it is interred in the ground.

Fold the flag correctly and respectfully then place it in the box.

Bury the flag in the ground. You may even consider giving your flag a short "funeral". Give a speech on the importance of the flag then stand at attention as the flag is lowered into the ground. Observe a moment of silence as the flag is buried. You may even choose to mark the burial location with a small, patriotic marker.

Flag Shredding

You may also shred your flag. Shredding an American flag may seem violent but the US Army's Heraldry Institute assures that shredding is an acceptable disposal method, provided it is done with reverence.

Use sharp scissors to slowly and accurately separate the thirteen stripes, leaving the blue star-spangled field intact.

After the flag is cut into pieces, place it in a respectful receptacle and bury it following the above procedures or ceremoniously burn the pieces one by one, starting with the stripes and ending with the blue field.

Giving your Flag to a Qualified Organization
Specific United States government organizations offer services to conduct the ceremony to properly dispose of flags for no charge, upon request.

The American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Boy and Girl Scouts of America and the US Military all provide this service. If you don't have access to any of these organizations, contact your city hall or local government.

For the convenience of Norwich residents, a collection box has been placed at the Norwich Transfer Station.  You may also contact any American Legion member and ask that they bring it to the attention of the American Legion post # 8 Commander who will ensure that it is disposed of properly.
The American Legion Post in Norwich meets on the first Monday of every month at 7:00 PM.  You may also drop it off then.  

 Below photos were taken by Demo Sofronas

This box is located at the Norwich transfer station

   We are located on Beaver Meadow Road
   Contact the American Legion  Post # 8 Commander at 802-291-4451
   The American Legion website also provides  information on a complete flag burning ceremony.

   The ceremony is typically done on Flag Day which is on June 14th.


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