Do you have an American flag that’s tattered or otherwise worn out? If so, it needs to be disposed of, and it’s disrespectful to simply toss it in the trash. 

Do you have an American flag that’s tattered or otherwise worn out? If so, it needs to be disposed of, and it’s disrespectful to simply toss it in the trash. 

In Title 4, Chapter 1 of the United States Code – also known as the United States Flag Code – the disposal of the flag is briefly addressed. It states:

“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.”

Because of fire codes, most people can’t simply burn their tattered flag in their backyard, so it’s become common practice to hand over the flag to organizations that regularly conduct flag-burning ceremonies. Here’s a look at the options:

Who holds flag-burning ceremonies

Note: Not all of these organizations are equipped to handle flag-burning, so call ahead to make sure.

- American Legion posts
- Boy Scouts
- Girl Scouts
- VFW posts

If you do it yourself

(Guidelines from VFW.org)

- The flag should be folded in its customary manner.

- It is important that the fire be fairly large and of sufficient intensity to ensure complete burning of the flag.

- Place the flag on the fire.

- The individual(s) can come to attention, salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and have a brief period of silent reflection.

- After the flag is completely consumed, the fire should then be safely extinguished and the ashes buried.

- Please make sure you are conforming to local/state fire codes or ordinances.

Sources: United States Code, VFW.org, usa-flag-site.org