Since walking has become an outlet for many people during the Covid-virus, I have noticed that many homes proudly fly the American flag, which is wonderful. But, what to do when it’s time to replace it? Don’t throw it out in the trash, that is considered disrespectful. There is an etiquette for disposing of Old Glory in a dignified manner.
In 1923, a Flag code was created which states that “the flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.” Then in 1937 The American Legion was able to get a resolution passed about flag retirement ceremonies and the method used in flag retirement ceremonies. “The approved method of disposing of unserviceable flags has long been that they be destroyed by burning.” The U.S. flag is considered such a sacred symbol that burning in an undignified manner constitutes desecration. That’s why the ceremonies are held in a specific manner.
Every year on June 14th, Americans celebrate Flag Day. Not surprisingly, it’s considered the most appropriate day to hold flag disposal ceremonies, which are held at night.
During the ceremony, participants stand aligned in two parallel rows about 20′ apart, facing each other. A small fire burns beyond the rows of members. As the crowd salutes, the flag is dipped into kerosene and put on a rack over the fire. A bugler sounds “To The Colors.”
Many state and government offices and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts have flag disposal boxes. Police stations and Boy Scouts also collect them. In our community, JPCA has installed collection boxes at Maspeth Federal Savings on 69th Street and Cross County Savings Bank on Metropolitan Avenue (above). These boxes are serviced by our local Civil Air Patrol.