Help with an average joe flag retirement?
March 2, 2011 2:10 PM   Subscribe

I'm familiar with flag retirement ceremonies conducted by uniformed organizations such as the Boy Scouts. What can I do to have the best flag retirement ceremony conducted by a group of patriotic but yet-unorganized citizens?

I'm an Eagle Scout, and I'd be happy to wear my scout uniform, but a number of the people who would like to be involved in the ceremony aren't affiliated with any of the normal organizations who do this sort of thing regularly. Tips on dress, and other things that will deviate from what I'm used to?

Have any of you done this before?
posted by Picklegnome to Society & Culture (5 answers total)
Also an Eagle Scout. I've done this quite a bit. We would tear the flags into 1 or two inch strips and burn them in a ceremonial fire. Here's a sample script. The most important thing is to keep the ceremony dignified and solemn.
posted by ColdChef at 2:23 PM on March 2, 2011

Definitely make sure everyone present is familiar with how flags are retired. Maybe make a short speech explaining that this is part of the Flag Code and that we honor flags by burning them rather than dishonoring them by throwing them away in the garbage. Perhaps mention other examples of honorable disposition through burning, like cremation. You don't want anyone to be surprised or shocked when the flag is burnt.
posted by jedicus at 2:25 PM on March 2, 2011 [1 favorite]

We have old mailboxes located on the military installation where I work. They have been re-purposed, painted red, white and blue. People deposit old unserviceable flags in them. When we have the disposal ceremony, it's usually the VFW, Boy Scouts and maybe a local pol. The ceremony is pretty brief, a few remarks, a little flag history, a bugler playing taps, then a bonfire. Short and sweet, and on preview, yes, dignified and solemn.
posted by fixedgear at 2:26 PM on March 2, 2011

Um, steal a Scout script and delete all the parts mentioning the Scouts. They just took some relevant texts and bolted on their own stuff anyway.

As has been said, the important thing is respectfulness. The readings & rituals are pretty much just buffers to give time for tearing/cutting and burning the material. *shrug* Whatever you and your friends want to do is fine, and whatever you want to wear (aside from a hat?) should be good, too.

We did it with the Cub Scouts last summer and it took like half an hour. I can scare up the script if you want, or you can just go with a few high pionts like the Four Freedoms, the Gettysburg Address, the Preamble to the Constitution, and/or the Bill of Rights. (Just how many flags have you got?)
posted by wenestvedt at 6:26 AM on March 3, 2011

Kind of a variation on Coldchef's experience: cut the flag into as many pieces as the number in the group and then each person says what "America" means to them as they place their piece in the fire. Depending on the group you should get some really interesting answers. Uniforms and recitation are unnecessary imo.
posted by Locobot at 4:21 PM on March 4, 2011

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