Proper Disposal of the American Flag


I recently took a Flag Etiquette Quiz at another site. One of the questions concerned proper disposal of the American flag. The question was “How should you dispose of a U.S. flag that’s beyond repair?”
Options were 1) Burn it 2) Shred it 3) Give it to your local government or American Legion Post to dispose of

The quiz gave the correct answer as “You should give a flag that’s beyond repair to your local government or American Legion Post to dispose of.” But my local government would not accept our old flag. What should I do to dispose of an old flag?

USA Flag Site Answer:

Their answer came from an incorrect interpretation of this sentence at the Federal Citizen Information Center of the U.S. General Services Administration (the GSA):

“American Legion Posts and local governments often have facilities to dispose of unserviceable flags.”

While that statement is true, it’s also true that they often have neither the facilities nor the knowledge. Furthermore, many municipalities have contacted USA Flag Site for what they should do with unserviceable flags. The only definitive answer is found in the US Flag Code. TITLE 4 > CHAPTER 1 > Sec. 8(k). 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”

You can find a good copy of the entire US Flag Code at the Legal Information Institute, Cornell Law School

USA Flag Site provides the high points of American Flag etiquette in a more user friendly format on our Flag Etiquette page.

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