Discussion in 'American Flag Disposal' started by EmailPoster, Jun 6, 2006.
What are the Flag Burning Ceremony Details...
For your flag retirement ceremony (not a flag burning ceremony!), here are some general guidelines that should help. You're on the right track with the patriotic words! The flag, however, should not be burned whole, but cut and then destroyed.
1)Begin with some words about the flag: what it symbolizes, when it was created, etc.
2)Display the flag for the gathered audience
3)In a dignified manner, hold the flag carefully (don't let it touch the ground) and use scissors (sharp ones) to remove the star field. This should be held by a scout during the ceremony until the end.
4)Continue by cutting each stripe off one by one. You may wish to name one of the 13 colonies for each stripe removed. The stripe should be carried and laid on the fire (carefully...some fires can create updrafts that could blow the burning piece up and off the fire). You may wish to salute, but the important thing is that the ceremony be dignified.
5)Once all the stripes have been removed and destroyed in this manner, lay the star field onto the fire last.
For an excellent ceremony including a script, see here:
Flag Retirement Ceremony #7
Thanks for your question, and good luck with the ceremony!
How do you respectfully desecrate a damaged flag?
]What are the Flag Burning Ceremony Details...[/quote]
A student in my classroom pulled the room's American Flag from its pole and tore it. The flag is faded and worn. What is the proper way to respectfully and with dignity put the flag to rest? I'd like to use this information as a teaching tool on Flag Day next week, so my students know that the American Flag is not just "Stars and Stripes" on a pole. Help would be sincerely appreciated. S. Montmeny
Careful with your wording! You should never desecrate our flag. The proper terminology is "Flag Retirement Ceremony". The details above should be perfectly appropriate, and the link provided has a few other ideas for ceremonies.
One thought: if fires are not allowed at your school, go through the symbolic ritual of cutting the flag into its stripes and star field, have your students (or yourself) place the pieces in a figurative "fire" (a container of some sort, to be burned later by yourself). You can make the appropriate changes to the script.
Thanks for the effort!
I have been a (male) Girl Scout leader for 17 years and I am a 32 year US Army Engr. retireree.
I was searching for an official ceremony for US flag disposal on the net.
But the best I have found is in the Girl Scout Ceremonies Handbook.
"Retiring a Flag"
Items needed: Flag to be retired, sharp scissors, fire to burn the flag, (optional musician to play "Taps" or recording of "Taps.)
People Needed: Color guard-four girls, one for each corner of the flag. One or two girls to cut the flag: one or two girls to lay the flag pieces on the fire.
Ceremonies for disposing unserviceable flags originated at the American Legion National Convention of 1937. The Flag Code suggests that "when a flag has served its useful purpose, it should be destroyed, preferably by burning." This solemn ceremony will be conducted with the utmost respect.
MAIN PART: Girl Scout-In Charge::Color Guard, advance."(May carry flag folded or open on a pole.) Please stand for our Pledge of Allegiance." (May be followed by an appropriate reading, poem, or song.)
Girl Scout-In-Charge: When the flag of our country has become worn or damaged, the proper way to dispose of it is through burning or burial. We are here tonight to pay our last respects to this flag with love and reverence. Each stripe stands for one of the original thirteen colonies, and each state is represented by a star on a field of blue."
The cutter starts cutting the first stripe. When it is enteirely cut, she lays it over the arm of another colorguard member to lay on the fire. As each stripe is laid on the fire, the Girl Scout-in-charch calls out the name of the thirteen original colonies in the order in which the states were admitted to the Union:
The first stripe stands for Delaware, then: Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Georgia, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maryland, South Carolina, New Hampshire, Virginia, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island.
The field of blue with white stars which stands for all the states, is burned last. It should be laid on the fire with two girls holding the corners, not tossed onto the fire.
CLOSING: Sing a song such as "God Bless America." After singing, the girls exit in silence while "TAPS" is played or hummed by the group.
I hope this is of some help to all seeking this info.
It's just my personal opinion, but the idea of slowly cutting the flag to pieces, and burning the pieces one at a time, strikes me as grotesque. I sounds more like some kind of pagan ritual than anything patriotic.
It seems to me that flag retirement ceremonies should feature the raising of a new flag to replace the old one. The flag is a symbol that lives on, regardless of what happens to individual representations of it.
The American Legion has a more staightforward ceremony in which they do not dissasemble each flag before burning. Here is their ceremony from an American Legion website:
From the Ceremony for Dignified Disposal of Unserviceable Flags:
President: â€œWe have presented these Flags of our
Country which have been inspected and judged
unserviceable. They have reached their present state
in a proper service of tribute, memory, and love.
â€œA Flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gauze, or a
beautiful banner of finest silk. Its intrinsic value
may be trifling or great; but its real value is beyond
price, for it is a precious symbol of all that our service
men and women have worked for and lived for,
and died for â€“ a free nation of men and women true
to the faith of the past, devoted to the ideals and
practice of Justice, Freedom, and Democracy.
â€œLet these faded Flags of our Country be retired
and destroyed with respectful and honorable rites
and their places taken by bright new Flags of the
same size and kind, and let no soldier, sailor, or airman
dead be unhonored and unmarked. Sergeant-at-
Arms, assemble the Color Guard, escort the detail
bearing the Flags and destroy these Flags by burning.
â€œThe Chaplain will offer prayer.â€
Chaplain: â€œAlmighty God, Captain of all hosts and
Guardian over all, bless and consecrate this present
â€œWe thank you for our Country and its Flag, and
for the liberty for which it stands.
â€œTo a clean and purging flame we commit these
Flags, worn out in worthy service. As they yield
their substance to the fire, may your Holy Light
spread over us and bring our hearts renewed devotion
to God and Country. Amen.â€
Here is another, more detailed, script followed by the American Legion.....
Ceremony for the Disposal of Unserviceable Flags
The Post assembles in meeting, out-of-doors, at night. Members are aligned in two parallel rows about twenty feet apart, facing each other. Officers at their stations as shown. A small fire is burning opposite the Commander and beyond the rows of members.
Sergeant-at-Arms: "Comrade Commander, we wish to present a number of unserviceable Flags of our Country for inspection and disposal."
Commander: "Comrade Sergeant-at-Arms advance with your detail and present the Flags for disposal and inspection."
(Sergeant-at-Arms calls his detail to attention. They form at the Post of the Sergeant-at-Arms, take the Flags which are to be inspected march abreast down center until opposite the Second Vice-Commander, turn right and halt two paces in front of the Second Vice-Commander. The Sergeant-at-Arms steps one pace forward and salutes.)
Sergeant-at-Arms: "Comrade Vice-Commander, we present these unserviceable Flags for your inspection."
Second Vice-Commander: "Is the present condition of these Flags the result of their usual service as the Emblem of our Country?"
Sergeant-at-Arms: "These Flags have become faded and worn over the graves of our departed comrades and the soldier and sailor dead of all our nation's wars."
Second Vice-Commander: "Present these Flags to the First Vice-Commander for his inspection." (The Sergeant-at-Arms salutes, about faces, commands the detail), "About Face," (crosses behind the detail and takes his post at its left, commands) "Forward March." (The detail marches to within two paces of the First Vice-Commander, halts and proceeds as before.)
Sergeant-at-Arms: "Comrade Vice-Commander, we present these Flags which have been inspected by the Second Vice-Commander, for your further inspection."
First Vice-Commander: "Have any of these Flags served any other purpose?"
Sergeant-at-Arms: "Some of these Flags have been displayed in various public places." First Vice-Commander: "Present them to the Commander for final inspection and fitting disposal."
(The Sergeant-at-Arms salutes, about faces, commands the detail), "About Face," (crosses behind the detail and takes position on its left commands), "Forward March." (The detail marches to center, turns left, halts within two paces of the Commander, Sergeant-at-Arms steps one pace forward and salutes.)
Sergeant-at-Arms: "Comrade Commander, we have the honor to present for final inspection and proper disposal these Flags of our Country."
Commander: "Have these Flags been inspected by the First and Second Vice-Commanders?"
Sergeant-at-Arms: "They have.
Commander: "Comrade Second Vice-Commander, what does your inspection show and what do you recommend?"
Second Vice-Commander: "Comrade Commander, since these Flags have become unserviceable in a worthy cause, I recommend that they be honorably retired from further service."
Commander: "Comrade First Vice-Commander, what does your inspection show and what do you recommend?"
First Vice-Commander: "Comrade Commander, since these Flags have become faded and worn in a tribute of service and love, I also recommend that they be fittingly destroyed."
Commander: "Comrades, we have presented here these Flags of our Country which have been inspected and condemned as unserviceable. They have reached their present state in a proper service of tribute, memory and love.
"A Flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gauze, or a beautiful banner of finest silk. Its intrinsic value may be trifling or great; but its real value is beyond price, for it is a precious symbol of all that we and our comrades have worked for and lived for, and died for-a free Nation of free men, true to the faith of the past, devoted to the ideals and practice of Justice, Freedom and Democracy.
"Let these faded Flags of our Country be retired and destroyed with respectful and honorable rites and their places be taken by bright new Flags of the same size and kind, and let no grave of our soldier or sailor dead be unhonored and unmarked. Sergeant-at-Arms, assemble the Color Guard, escort the detail bearing the Flags and destroy these Flags by burning. The members shall stand at attention."
(Color Guard forms. The detail about faces. Preceded by the Color Guard the detail marches down center to the fire. National Colors cross over and take position on the right of the fire, facing the Commander. Post Standard takes position on left of fire. The detail lines up behind the fire, which is burning low.)
Commander: "The Chaplain will offer prayer."
Chaplain: "Almighty God, Captain of all hosts and Commander over all, bless and consecrate this present hour.
"We thank Thee for our Country and its Flag, and for the liberty for which it stands. "To clean and purging flame we commit these Flags, worn-out in worthy service. As they yield their substance to the fire, may Thy Holy Light spread over us and bring to our hearts renewed devotion to God and Country. Amen."
Commander: "Hand salute."
(Color Guards present arms. Post Standard is dipped. All officers and members except those on the Flag detail salute. Members of the Flag detail dip the condemned Flags in kerosene and place them on a rack over the fire).
(Bugler sounds "To the Colors.")
Commander: (at conclusion of "To the Colors") "Two."
(The Color Guard shall resume its station and detail is dismissed.)
(Color Guard advances down center and places Colors. Members of the detail resume their places among the members.)
There is no specific law for U.S. flag disposal except it be done in a respectful manner . Several good ceremonies have be suggested already . Let me explain the reasoning of disassembling the fag though I have never heard of the cutting up of the stripes , more commonly is the separation of the Union (star field) from the stripes . Most merely remove the Union by cutting the field away. with the union gone you have a red and white striped cloth left and a white stared blue cloth neither being the US flag any longer . That is the purpose of flag disassembly .
What if I wish to lay down a flag for a service person that has left us or someone that wishes for their flag be put to rest. Is there something out there that I can put into words for these veterans?
All you have to do is speak from your heart, plain & true.
Eugene, Oregon, USA
As a scout troop there is a site out there that has many ideas for any kind of scouting and they have a retirment ceremony that I think would fit your need. Check out this site USSSP: Ceremonies - Flag Retiring 2
Just wish to thank all of you for responding in such a short notice. Thank again and happy Veterans Day to all
I can understand the thought process behind this, but cutting away the Union seems excessive and unnecessary. The flag should be burned as a whole, not disassembled then burned.
I like this ceremony, from the National Flag Foundation:
Separate names with a comma.