National Flag Disposal (USA)
Masahiro Sayano (sayano@MICRO.CALTECH.EDU)
Thu, 20 Aug 1992 13:27:02 PDT
Greetings, Fellow Scouters!
This is a copy of a posting made to rec.scouting and refers to techniques
on how to retire an American flag. Most postings refer to burning the flag
after cutting it into stripes and a blue field. Here are my experiences
on the matter.
When I was a scout, at one summer camp, a worn-out flag was first saluted,
the Pledge of Allegiance recited, and, while everyone held their salute, the
flag was burned in the campfire. (The color guards were wearing white gloves,
and these were burned, too.) It was very dignified and solemn.
Years later, when I came into posession of a worn-out flag, I tried to find
out what the accepted, traditional disposal method was. I called the U.S.
armed forces recruiting offices and nearby bases, and this is what I got:
Army (Captain): I don't know; I've never seen one done. Why don't you just
seal it in a box and throw it out? I don't know if you can
burn one . . . .
(This was during the time when the flag burning issue was a big court issue.)
Navy (Lieutenant): The Navy doesn't fly that many flags, and what gets worn
out from sea duty just gets sent back to the base. I
assume they are destroyed by burning . . . .
Air Force (Lieutenant): (said about the same thing as the Navy officer)
Marine Corps (Gunnery Sergeant): Well, I've been in the Corps for some years,
but I've never seen one done. But, if I were
to do one, I would first put everyone at
attention, present arms (salute), destroy the
flag in a wood fire, wait until the flag was
completely destroyed, order arms (back to
attention), and then dismiss the troops.
Well, there's hope for the armed forces yet --- at least the Gunnery Sergeant
knew what to do, or at least think about how to do it. We ended up doing as
the sergeant said, but we added the Pledge of Allegiance, too.
Does anyone know of any other ceremonies? Is there an accepted or otherwise
"correct" (whatever that means) method? I'd like to set up another flag
retirement ceremony soon for the scouts to experience, but I'd like to do
(Based on what I learned so far, there probably isn't a "correct" way.)
Oh, by the way, what do other nations do when they want to destroy or retire
a worn-out flag?
Yours in Scouting,
Assistant Scoutmaster, Troop 738
Los Angeles Area Council
Boy Scouts of America
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City