How to retire an old flag becomes important when a flag becomes torn, badly soiled, faded, or tattered. Since it represents honor and respect for our nation, it must be disposed of properly, preferably by fire or burial. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts have a specific flag retirement ceremony for this. They often have the event on Flag Day, June 14th, as well as other times throughout the year.
- Check with a Scout troop or your local VFW or perhaps your Wal-Mart to see if they have a special box for these flags.
- If you would prefer to recycle your flag, contact a flag recycling advocacy group at http://www.americanflagdisposal.com/
- Give facts along with the discarded flag such as where it was flown and if there were any memorable events at the site.
- Attend a dignified Scout ceremony and appreciate the exact steps taken that give respect to the flag.
- The flag must be cut by shears or scissors in a particular pattern: cut in half vertically, being careful not to cut the blue star field, and after placing the two halves together, cutting them in half horizontally. This creates four pieces with one being the blue star field.
- The reason for leaving the star field intact is not to let the union of the states be broken.
- Other Scouts will build a fire in something like a metal drum.
- A beautiful ceremony explaining the meaning of various parts of the flag and the flag burning is performed while all the remnants are destroyed.
- The fire is then extinguished and the ashes buried.
- A moment of silence follows, and "Taps" is played by a bugler.
The above should give you the information you need on how to retire an old flag. If you have any questions, contact a local Scout troop.