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Decommissioning a US Flag Properly

Author:  GSLC

“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.” (The United States Flag Code)

I always get asked how to decommission a flag properly, so here is a simple and dignified way in
which to decommission the flag.

1. Gather the Den or Pack to flagpole and fire pit. Make sure they are all at attention and this is a
great time to teach and instruct them on the meaning of the flag and how to show proper respect
for the flag. Make sure to tell them that by burning the flag tonight it shows our dedication and
respect to this sacred emblem of our country.

2. Raise the flag one last time in a proper flag ceremony and salute and repeat the Pledge of Allegiance
one last time. Then lower the flag and use two or four people to hold the corners of the

3. Hold the flag over the fire and when the middle of the flag starts on fire fold the corners in
so none of the flag’s ashes falls to the ground but all of it stays in the fire pit. Keep someone to
watch the fire until it dies out.

4. Let the fire continue to burn and die out on its own. When the fire is completely gone and
the coals are cool, retrieve the grommets and present them to someone special. (This could be a
Scout leader, the owner of the flag, or military servicemen’s family or anyone else.)
An idea to make sure the boys remember the experience is to use35mm film canister and
present each boy some of the ashes from the fire so they can hold them dear and remember the
event. To learn more about how to properly decommission the flag, talk to the Veterans of Foreign
Wars or the American Legion.

References / Source:
GSLC Pow Wow 2008
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