Re: Flag Retirement and U.S. Law
Ronald W. Fox (ronfox@MINDSPRING.COM)
Tue, 17 Jun 1997 19:57:35 -0400
I have a copy of a 52 page book called "Our Flag". This is not the one put
out by the BSA. It is published by the U.S. Government Printing Office, and
is identified as House Document 100-247. It was written and printed under
the authority of the Joint Committee on Printing, as per House Concurrent
Resolution 361 of the 2nd Session of the 100th Congress.
I would recommend that anyone who is interested in the U.S. flag get a copy
of this from your Congressman or Congresswoman. Be specific regarding the
document title *AND* document number. It has historical information on the
U.S. and State flags (the word flag itself is not capitalized in the
document), some notes on the origin of flags, how to care for flags, sizes
for flags, and the complete text of those Federal laws pertaining to the
U.S. flag. The latter includes how to display the flag, how to show respect
for it, etc. It is well and colorfully illustrated. I use it as an
authority, as well as my own researches on the Web at the Thomas Jefferson
Law Project and U.S. Congressional web sites.
Retirement of a U.S. Flag that is no longer suitable for display is covered in
U.S. Federal Code Title 36, Chapter 10, Section 176(k), as follows:
"The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting
emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by
I should think that the American users of this list could be trusted to come
up with a ceremony that would fit these criteria, whether they use someone
else's or create their own.
Some common misconceptions that I have seen as this topic has come up about
4 or 5 times on this list in the last 2 years I've been on it (forgive us,
the non-U.S.A. contingent, please):
Only Military/Veteran/Government/Scout groups can retire flags.
Only specific ceremonies can be used.
Flags should be buried.
Flag retirement can only be done in private, not public.
No one who has ever stated these has ever come up with a legal citation when
I have challenged them. Obviously, members of groups that have set customs
of their own should follow them if they are in conformance with Federal law.
I know Jon Eidson is off to Philmont, but I am going to ask him if he'd like
me to come up with a FAQ for this. I invite anyone to mail me text of
ceremonies that they would like included as examples. If anyone thinks I am
wrong, then send me a citation on the issue. Then we can reference people
to the FAQ and stop beating this topic to death about once every 8 months
and give the Australian/New Zealand/British/etc. contingents a break.
Scoutmaster, Troop 69, Des Plaines Valley Council (W&SW Chicago Suburbs)
Pachsegink Lodge 246 | >>>------> |
"... and a good old Eagle, too" (C-19-96)
Terry Howerton Sakima Group, Inc. SCOUTER Magazine Kansas City