Lopco Blogs

Proper Decommissioning of the American Flag

There are certain things that I often wonder about which when I find out the answer to, I think to myself, “Well, that makes sense!”

One of these such situations came about recently when I started to notice all of the new flags going up around municipalities and people’s homes in preparation for the 4th of July.

For those with at least somewhat of a patriotic pulse among us, this is certainly refreshing to see, but in noticing Old Glory being hung in such admirable fashion, I could not help but think, “What happens to the old flag that is being replaced?”

Whether at a school or as a tribute hung outside someone’s home, when the flag is taken down, there has got to be a proper way to dispose of it (though I hate even describing it like that), but what is it???

Enter my good buddy John Loughlin.

John is a decorated military vet that has a radio show on before my home improvement show each Saturday afternoon (WPRO; 630AM; 99.7FM).

On a recent Saturday I ran the question by John and asked if he would mind staying an extra few minutes after his show to discuss the topic on my show.

He graciously obliged and not only was John able to provide some stellar insight, but I believe he inspired a number of callers to call in and do the same.

It turns out there are a number of ways to funnel an old flag towards its proper decommissioning.

The majority of municipalities have collection boxes for old flags on the premises of their town hall, you would simply need to call and verify if they do indeed have one and if so where you can find it.

If you have a Boy Scout Troop that you are familiar with, putting it in the hands of the Troop can also be a valuable way to ensure that this procedure is done correctly as many Troops take part in decommissioning ceremonies at least at one point during the year.

Another avenue would be to drop the flag off at a Local American Legion Post/VFW (Veterans of Foreign Affairs) Hall where they too may be able to steer the flag towards correct decommissioning (again, call in advance to confirm).

Decommissioning ceremonies are solemn events in which the flag is destroyed in a dignified manner.

Burning the flag is the preferred way to destroy the flag during these ceremonies and may even be combined with some type of passage reading during the event.

The ‘Flag Code’ does not provide specifics as to how to destroy the flag, though there are a number of guidelines as to proper protocol for these types of ceremonies and can be found at a link on the US Department of Homeland Security’s website:


Proper decommissioning of the American flag is not just a “thing”, it is an actual process with a bit involved to it in order to ensure that it is done in the most respectful way possible.

Even if you do not have the time to perhaps see your old flag through to its end, knowing that there are folks out there that can help make sure that your flag is disposed of properly is certainly reassuring.

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