Few things get under my skin more so than seeing an American flag in disrepair. I was recently at a funeral and the flags that had been placed in the cemetery were so worn that I couldn't help myself- I had to take my concerns to the caretaker. I don't know if anything was done, but I just couldn't sit back and not say anything.

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If you've got an American flag that's not in the best shape, now might be a good time to brush up on flag etiquette and the proper way to dispose of an American Flag that can't or shouldn't be flown.

The United States Flag Code (4 USC Sec 8 Para (k) Amended 7 July 1976) states: "The Flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning."  Burning isn't the only way to dispose of a flag, though.

Here are three ways to dispose of your worn or damaged flag with the respect it deserves.

  • 1

    Flag Burning

    According to the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the first thing you should do is properly fold your flag. If you’re not sure how to fold a flag, you can get step by step directions here. Once you’ve properly folded your flag, make a fire that’s big enough to ensure that your flag will completely burn. When your fire is ready, respectfully place your folded flag on top of it. If you want, you can have a moment of silence or say the Pledge of Allegiance. After the flag has completely burned, the fire needs to be safely and completely extinguished. Collect the ashes and then bury them.

  • 2

    Flag Burial

  • 3

    Flag Donation

    If you're leery that you might not burn or bury your flag properly, you can donate your flag to your local American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Boy Scouts, or the Girl Scouts. Each of these government organizations will conduct a ceremony to dispose of the flag properly and they'll do it for no charge.