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How to Properly Dispose of an American Flag


If you’ve got a flag that’s not in the best shape, now might be a good time to brush up on the proper way to dispose of an American Flag that can no longer be flown.

The United States Flag Code (4 USC Sec 8 Para (k) Amended 7 July 1976) states: “The Flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”  Burning isn’t the only way to dispose a flag, though. Here are three ways you can dispose of your worn or damaged flag with the respect that it deserves.


The Veterans of Foreign Wars says that the first thing you should do is fold the flag properly. If you’re not sure how to fold a flag, you can get step by step directions here. Once you’ve properly folded your flag, make a fire that’s big enough to ensure that your flag will completely burn. When your fire is ready, respectfully place your folded flag on top of it. If you want, you can have a moment of silence or say the Pledge of Allegiance. After the flag has completely burned, the fire needs to be safely and completely extinguished. Collect the ashes and bury them.


According to American Disposal Services, the proper way to bury your flag is to first fold it and then place it in a dignified box. You can then bury the flag, saying a few words if you wish.


A flag company outside of Albany, NY called Gettysburg Flag Works collects American-made flags, the ones with embroidered stars. The stars are carefully cut out and sent to troops who are serving our country and the company will then properly dispose of the other parts of the flag.


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