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Flags At Cemetery On Memorial Day

Retiring a Flag and Veterans Funeral Benefits

Memorial Day became a federal holiday in 1971, and many people use the “day off” to visit cemeteries to honor those veterans who have fallen. While also celebrating the unofficial kick-off to the summer season, we also use the holiday to revere our family members or friends who died serving the United States while active in the military.

In getting ready for the summer season, you might realize that the spring’s harsh weather has caused some wear and tear on the American flag you fly proudly in the yard. In 1942, Congress passed a joint resolution called the U.S. Flag Code, giving guidance to how and how not to display “Old Glory.”

“When the flag is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem, it should be destroyed in a dignified and ceremonious fashion, preferably by burning,” the code states.

Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium offers complimentary flag retirement and has received more than 500 flags in the past year. Decommissioned or tattered flags can be deposited in the flag mailbox located at 243 Hanover Street, Manchester, NH. We utilize our crematorium to burn these flags respectfully.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac provides a lengthy list of proper ways to display the American Flag, including:

  • When displayed from a staff projecting from a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff.
  • When the flag is displayed otherwise than by being flown from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out or so suspended that its folds fall as freely as though the flag were staffed.
  • When displayed over a street, the flag should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street, or to the east in a north and south street.
  • When displayed from a staff in a church or auditorium, the flag should occupy the position of honor and be placed at the speaker’s right as he [or she] faces the audience.
  • When flown at half-staff, the flag should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to half-staff position. It should again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.

While the flag is traditionally draped over the casket during a veteran’s funeral service, in the case of a veteran’s cremation, the flag is hung over the urn or receptacle, before the flag-folding ceremony. The flag-folding ceremony at a funeral service is a very impactful way to commemorate the life of a veteran or fallen soldier. During the flag-folding ceremony, the flag is carefully folded a total of 13 times by six honor guards.

Memorial Day is often a somber time of reflection, taking our thoughts to mortality, possibly reminding us of the traditions observed at a military funeral. Phaneuf Funeral Homes and Crematorium ensures those who served are treated with the utmost respect.

There are several veterans funeral benefits and recognition markers that veterans may be eligible to receive as part of a funeral service. For example, the NH State Veterans Cemetery in Boscawen provides free burial space for veterans. Veterans may pre-apply to confirm eligibility.

  • Darrell R. Crowder Reply February 13, 2020 at 5:24 am

    I applaud the service you provide NH vets & their families, but I live in San Antonio, Texas. I proudly possess & display the flag presented to our family when my father died in 2000. He was a U.S. Navy vet from WWII. I am the last living relative in the family. How should his flag be retired or disposed of when I die?

    • Buddy Phaneuf Reply February 21, 2020 at 12:37 pm

      Thank you for reaching out, and for your interest in information on the proper retirement of the American flag in honor of your father. Local patriotic organizations like the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion or The Boy Scouts of America will accept flags to be retired, and they will be disposed of based on the U.S. Flag Code, and given a proper burial. You can add this in writing to your end-of-life plans, and let the individual who will be handling your final arrangements know that this is your wish for the flag.


      Buddy Phaneuf

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