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American Flag Etiquette

Memorial Services Checklist: How to Properly Dispose of a U.S. Flag

A proud symbol of independence and cultural unity, the American flag is as revered a physical item as they come. It hangs tall in front of our homes, on our walls and elsewhere to remind us of the country we love and honor on a daily basis. In other words, it’s not the type of item that most people would ever feel comfortable throwing away in the garbage or recycling bin—committing such an act would feel unpatriotic to say the very least

According to the federal flag code , American flags that have been irreversibly damaged or otherwise soiled must always be retired in a dignified manner. Here are just a few ways to properly dispose of a U.S. flag, all of which are considered respectful.


For those who are looking to dispose of an American flag on their own, burial is one of the easiest and most effective methods of doing so. The flag should be properly folded and placed inside of a dignified wooden box, which can then be buried in one’s back yard whilst observing a moment of silence. The burial location can even be marked with an object as a reminder of the flag’s importance to never be forgotten.


While the process may sound aggressive in nature, shredding of the American flag is considered to be a proper disposal method according to the US Army’s Heraldry Institute. All you’ll need to dispose of a flag this way is a sharp pair of scissors, which you will use to carefully separate the flag’s 13 stripes (the blue, “star-spangled” section should be left intact). Once properly shredded, the pieces can either be buried in a respectful manner or ceremonially burned, piece by piece.


Despite the poor connotations typically associated with “flag burning,” incineration is considered to be the purest method of flag disposal. Simply setting a flag on fire isn’t appropriate, however, as the proper method of incineration involves ceremonially laying the flag on a bonfire whilst being saluted alongside the Pledge of Allegiance or National Anthem. Understandably, this is not an act that most people feel comfortable performing on their own.

Phaneuf Funeral Homes is now proud to offer flag disposal services at our Manchester, NH location (243 Hanover St.), collecting unserviceable flags to ensure they receive a proper ceremonial incineration. Visitors can deposit their flags into the mailbox (wrapped in a flag graphic), and Phaneuf will manage the disposal. We also offer families of deceased veterans the opportunity for their loved ones to be cremated with one of these flags if they so choose.

Proper flag disposal doesn’t have to be as confusing as it may sound. Contact us today to learn more about our dropbox flag disposal program.

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