How To Properly Retire A Flag

retire a flag |  How To Properly Retire A Flag | When it comes to retiring a US flag, it can be confusing, intricate, and maybe even a little stressful. Luckily for you, we have simplified the route retiring a US flag.

It’s important to do this properly or you could be disrespecting the flag ad the US as a whole. Now obviously it wouldn’t be on purpose but its best to just do it the right way.

We’re going to go over multiple topics such as when, who, and how do you know a flag should be retired.

So without rambling on too much, let’s get right into it!

The United States Flag Code, Title 4, Section 8k

This code sounds extremely confusing but to keep it simple this means:

No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States.

Now, this is a very broad saying, so let’s dip into some of the rules that apply. 

For starters, the flag shall never be damaged such as burning, stepping, etc. This is a complete disrespect and should never be done purposefully.

A more simple rule is the flag shouldn’t touch anything below when being displayed. For example, if it’s hanging from a porch, it shouldn’t touch the railing, floor, etc. Moreover, this is why it is so important that the flagpole used to support the flag is the correct size. Accordingly, you can learn more about how to choose the right flagpole for the US flag by taking a look at some of the helfpul resources on the Flagpoles Etc website.

When carrying the flag it should be done flat or horizontally. This is pretty picky but still the code.

Another rule that is broken by millions is that the US design shouldn’t be worn as clothing. Although its showing support, its technically breaking code.

Although there are many other rules to the flag that haven’t been stated, it’s important to always treat the flag with the utmost respect as much as possible.

When Should You Retire A Flag?

According to the code listed above, its time to retire the flag when it’s not in a condition that positively displays the flag. For example, if there are any rips, dirty, etc. its probably time to start the process of retiring it.

Who Can Retire A Flag?

Technically anyone can retire a flag, but its important to bring it to the proper organization. The 2 main places to go are:

  • The American Legion
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • Girl Scouts

If you don’t go with one of these organizations that’s completely okay, just be sure to do it properly in a way of respect.

american flag

Is Burning A Flag Okay?

Surprising the answer is yes. You can in fact burn the US flag. 


It must be done in a way of respect and when its time to retire it. If you own a brand new flag it wouldn’t be respectful to burn it for no reason. There’s must be a legitimate reason to burn it such as tears, dirt, etc.


When burning/retiring a flag its ital to do it the proper way. 

The very first step is to fold the flag in the customary triangle shape. This is the proper way of folding the US flag and is still done today.

Next, prepare a fire that’s large enough to burn the flag in entirety. 

From there simply place the flag inside the fire.

Finally, while it burns any witnesses should recite the Pledge of Allegiance or salute during the burning process.

3 Other Ways To Retire A Flag:

Option 1 Recycle The Flag

The first option is to simply recycle the flag. Believe it or not theres actually a proper technique that keeps it respectful. 

It involves cutting the flag up but its important to not cut the blue starfield.

Here’s the steps:

  • Stretch out the corners
  • Cut the flag in half and then vertically (Don’t cut the blue star field)
  • At this point you should have four pieces of the flag
  • Fianlly, place the flag in a container and dispose properly

Option 2 Get Help From Your Community

You can contact a local group such as the girl scouts, American legion, or veterans. This is a great way to properly and respectfully dispose of your US flag. 

The best way to get ahold of them is a quick google or Facebook search

Option 3 Pay A Company

This option involves just getting ahold of a company that retires flags. Unfortunately, it can be a little difficult to find these companies. But if found, it can be a great way to respectfully retire a flag.

Final Thoughts:

All in all, retiring a flag must be done in a respectful manner. 

Simply burning or disrespecting a  flag in any way is more than just damaging the cloth. The flag represents everything our country has fought for and continue to fight for.

There are many routes to go about retiring a flag, and the good news is that you can do it yourself. Just be sure to keep it respectful in any route you take.


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