Now that summer is officially over, many of us are putting away the outdoor decor. If you have been flying an American Flag and realize it looks a little worn, read on. It may need to be retired and there is a mostly unknown, correct way to do that. Just throwing it in the garbage is seen as highly disrespectful.

According to the U.S. Flag Code flying an American Flag that is less than perfect should not be displayed. The exact wording says "the flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning."

Burning the American Flag? No, that doesn't seem right. If you want to perform the ceremony and have a place to safely do that, follow the rules of the U.S. Flag Code.  Otherwise, find a drop box or an organization to do it for you, especially if you are using a synthetic flag that would create hazardous gases if burned.

The best way to guarantee your worn American Flag is treated with respect and disposed of correctly is to find a collection box in the area.

Boy Scouts of America has some other ways you can respectfully retire your American Flag including cutting it. Do not cut through the blue star field. When a flag has been properly cut up, officially, it is no longer a flag.

  1. Stretch out the corners of the flag.
  2. Cut the flag in half, vertically — do not cut into the blue star field.
  3. Place the two halves together and cut in half, horizontally.
  4. You will have four pieces of flag, one being the blue star field and the other three red and white stripes.
  5. Put the flag in a container and dispose of it properly.

This is what the Boy Scout ceremony for proper disposal of an American Flag looks like.

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