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Flag Disposal

When an American flag is no longer fit for display it must not be thrown away. Instead there is a special flag disposal ceremony where the flag is burned in accordance with flag disposal protocol. The following organizations conduct flag disposal ceremonies:

  • Boy Scouts
  • Girl Scouts
  • American Legion
  • VFW
  • Marine Corps League
  • D. A .V.

In addition to the above organizations, USA Flag Supply also offers our own Flag Retirement Service. Read more about the benefits of retiring your flag with us on our Flag Disposal page.

Flag Disposal Ceremony

The American flag disposal ceremony is made up of one or a combination of the above groups, which assembles outdoors. The members form parallel rows approximately 20 feet apart and face each other. Officers take specified stations and the ceremony begins scripted as below:

COMMANDER:

"Attention, Camp!" "Parade, rest!"

COLOR BEARER:

"Commander, I wish to present a number of unserviceable flags of our country for inspection and disposal."

COMMANDER:

"Advance with your detail and present the flags for inspection and disposal."

The Color Bearer commands: "Attention, Detail! Forward, March!"

Guiding on the Color Bearer, the detail marches two abreast carrying the flags to be inspected down the center of the formation unit opposite the Junior Vice-Commander's station. Turning right, the Color Bearer commands: "Detail, halt! Right Face!" The detail halts two paces in front of the Junior Vice-Commander.

The Color Bearer steps one pace forward, salutes and says:

COMMANDER:

"Junior Vice-Commander, I present these unserviceable flags for your inspection'"

JUNIOR VICE-COMMANDER:

"Is the present conditions of these flags the result of their usual service as the emblem of our country?"

COLOR BEARER:

"These flags have become faded and worn over the graves of our departed Brothers and Comrade Fathers, and the soldier, sailor and airmen dead of our Nation's wars." (This reference is to the small headstone flags.)

JUNIOR VICE-COMMANDER:

"Present these flags to the Senior Vice-Commander for his inspection."

The Color Bearer salutes, executes an about face, and commands the detail: "Detail, About Face!" Crossing behind the detail he takes his post at its left and commands: "Forward, March". The detail marches to within two paces of the Senior Vice-Commander where the Color Bearer commands: "Detail, halt!" The Color Bearer steps one pace forward, salutes and says:

COLOR BEARER:

"Senior Vice-Commander, I present these flags which have been inspected by the Junior Vice-Commander for your further inspection."

SENIOR VICE-COMMANDER:

"Have these flags served any other purpose?"

COLOR BEARER:

"Some of these flags have been displayed in various public places."

SENIOR VICE-COMMANDER:

"Present them to the Commander for final inspection and dignified disposal."

The Color Bearer salutes, executes an about face, and commands the detail: "Detail, About Face!" Crossing behind the detail he takes his post at its left and commands: "Forward, March". The detail marches to the center, turns left where the Color Bearer commands: "Detail! Left Wheel! Halt!" and halts within two paces of the Commander. The Color Bearer steps one pace forward, salutes and says:

COLOR BEARER:

"Commander, I the honor to present for final and proper disposal these flags our country."

COMMANDER:

"Have these flags been inspected by the Junior Vice-Commander and the Senior Vice-Commander?"

COLOR BEARER:

"Commander, they have."

COMMANDER:

"Junior Vice-Commander, what does your inspection show and what do you recommend?"

JUNIOR VICE-COMMANDER:

"Commander, since these flags have become unserviceable in a worthy cause, I recommend that they be honorably retired from further service."

COMMANDER:

"Senior Vice-Commander, what does your inspection show and what do you recommend?"

SENIOR VICE-COMMANDER:

"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:

"Brothers, 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 our dear country stands for; a free nation of free men and women, true to the faith of the past, and devoted to the ideals and practice of Justice, Freedom and Democracy. It represents all that our fathers, the Grand Army of the Republic and our nation's defenders in all conflicts lived for, sacrificed for and died for."

"Let 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 grave of our soldier, sailor or airmen dead be unhonored and unmarked."

"Color Bearer, you will destroy these flags with solemn dignity by burning. Officer of the Guard, assemble the Color Guard, escort this detail bearing flags to the vessel of disposal. Attention, Camp!”

The Color Guard will form up immediately behind the Color Bearer's detail. The Officer of the Guard will command: "Attention, Detail! About, Face! Forward, March!" Preceeded by the Color Guard; the detail marches down the center to the fire. The Officer of the Guard will command: "Detail, Halt!" The National Colors will cross over and take position on the right of the fire facing the Commander; the Camp Colors will take up position on the left. Once in place the Commander will command:

COMMANDER:

"The Chaplain will invoke the divine blessing.” “Uncover!"

CHAPLAIN:

"Almighty God, High and Mighty Ruler of the Universe, be with us at this hour. Bless and consecrate these proceedings as may seem fitting in your sight.”

“We now stand before you giving thanks for our Country and its Flag. We thank you for liberty, for which our country stands and which our Flag represents. To clean and purging flame we commit these Flags, worn 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."

OFFICER OF THE GUARD:

At the conclusion of "To the Colors", gives the command: "Shoulder, Arms"

COMMANDER:

"Thank you for your assistance in conducting this most solemn ritual. As the old soldier, sailor and airman one day go beyond our world to a better place, so too must the dear old flag under which they so nobly served be retired. And like the old soldier or sailor or airman, the flag too, shall be followed by that which is new, bright of stripe and shining of star amid a field of Union Blue. May the flag ever fly aloft o'er this great land to comfort the dispossessed, defend the weak and warn the tyrant. May it ever flutter in peace, shouting the message of liberty and freedom.”

"The Color Guard shall resume its station! The Detail is dismissed.”

The Officer of the Guard will command: "Attention, Detail!" "Forward, March!" The Color Guard advances down the center to within two paces of the Commander where the Officer of the Guard will command: "Detail, Halt!" "Post!" The Color Guard reposts the National Colors and Camp Standard. The Color Bearer will command: "Attention, Detail!" "Break Ranks, March!" The Color Bearer and his Detail resume their places among the Camp members. The Commander will then command:

COMMANDER:

"Camp, Dismissed!"