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Flag Retirement and Grommets

A Question about Flag Grommets

Cindy sent in this question:

I would like to make a key chain or slide for the boys in our troop who participated in a recent flag retirement ceremony from the grommets that were left after the flags were burned. Has anyone done anything to preserve / recycle or create anything from the grommets. I think it would be a nice way to remember this meaningful ceremony.?? Thanks.

Some Suggestions

I have heard of many things which are done with the grommets from a flag retirement ceremony, but never making a key chain. Some of the opinions I have received on what to do with the grommets include:

  • Bury them with the ashes.
  • Polish them and give them to veterans or the person who donated the flag.
  • Give them to the Scouts who performed the ceremony.
  • Frame them as a memento.
  • They aren’t really part of the flag so don’t do anything special with them.

Readers, what are your opinions about flag grommets? Do you have any ideas for Cindy? Share them with us.

More Resources and Ideas

A Simple Flag Retirement Ceremony

This is a simple and respectful way to retire a US flag which is too worn for service.

How to Fold the US Flag

As part of your ceremony, you will probably want to fold the flag. Learn how to do it correctly. With diagrams.

The American Flag

Learn more about how to display and respect the American flag.


20 responses to “Flag Retirement and Grommets”

  1. LIScouter Avatar

    A scouter friend told me to clean them up, and make them into medals for the scouts who conducted the retirement ceremony. I use red, white and blue stripped ribbon. Cubs love them.

  2. Bill Avatar

    Our pack does a flag retirement as part of our campfire ceremony during our campouts. The grommets are collected from the ashes and kept until Memorial Day when we help place a US Flag on every grave site at Camp Nelson National Cemetery. The Scouts can then place a grommet in the ground next to a headstone as a display of respect for the service members sacrifice for our country.

    1. Jessica Avatar

      This is beautiful. Thank you so much for sharing!!

    2. Jessica Green Avatar
      Jessica Green

      Leaving the grommet, while a sentimental thought, is in direct opposition to Leave No Trace. Flags that are placed by your gorup, or any BSA Good Turn event, are recollected after the holiday. A metal grommet being left behind is actually littering.

  3. Vickie Avatar

    I think we will polish up the grommets, place them on a survival/braided leather type key chain and present to our SM at our next COH. The boys may also do the same with theirs. In hopes that they may always remember.

  4. Jessica Avatar

    I plan to do a retirement ceremony with our pack. I will be contacting our local VFW post to request that a few veterans attend to help teach the boys about the ceremony, and also for the boys to feel connected with the veterans who served for them, even before they were born. I plan to make a small mimento for each veteran with one of the Grommets to thank them. Something framed, patriotic, centimental – using the scout crest and our pack number.

  5. Cristy Avatar

    We presented a grommet to each boy who participated in the retirement ceremony. Many of them use theirs as a neckerchief slide. It serves as a great reminder of such a memorable event.

  6. Shawn Avatar

    We hand ours out to the scouts who helped in retiring the flags. Was told they also could be hung on flag pole to keep track of how many flags have been replaced.

  7. Mary Avatar

    Our Webelos conduct an annual flag retirement ceremony for our pack. I gather the grommets from the ashes afterwards and make them a special neckerchief slide. On the back of the slide I write the date of the ceremony. I make lots of slides for my boys (kind of sort of an addiction!) These slides seem to always be one they treasure most 🙂

    1. sunshine Avatar

      Mary do you think you could email me a picture of what your slide looks like? Scoutingfor2011n346@gmail.com
      Thank you so much!

      1. Chris Kuehl Avatar
        Chris Kuehl

        Hi I a m a assistant cubmaster and we just did a flag retirement on the 4th of July. The last time we retired flags I made a key holder with a grommet. Each scout who participated got a key ring with a grommet. I would like to try a neckchief slide with a grommet. Could I please see a picture of one.

        Thank You

    2. Chris Kuehl Avatar
      Chris Kuehl

      could you please emal apicture of your slide. I like your idea of the slide for all my boys. We are doing a flag retirement on Veterans Day. Thank You


    3. Bryan Avatar

      If you still have a photo could you email it to me? Thank you! Bvhunts@yahoo.com

  8. Jason Avatar

    I made 550 paracord tabs and connected them to the grommets for key rings, etc. I was given a grommet by my friend and a former scout, who was later killed in action in Iraq 2007. I still have the grommet and since then, I’ve collected more through flag retirements and given them with the paracord tabs to friends who knew him. I’m currently making some for his family, with black, yellow, and ACU camo cord to signify the colors of the 1st Cav. Battalion US ARMY (my friend’s unit). It’s a nice way to be reminded of him whenever I’m out driving or simply grabbing my keys for the day.

  9. Doc Avatar

    My troop retired American flags during a special ceremony while attending a summer trip to Gettysburg. The ceremony was so moving that I wanted to do something for everyone who was in attendance–a way to remember the event in a special way.

    I came across an article about the origins of the Wood Badge:(https://www.ctyankee.org/fs/page/001148/originswoodbadgegilwqellfs145001.pdf) Baden-Powell envisioned a number of ways to wear the bead. One such method was for it to be worn in the button-hole of a coat.

    So I tied each of the flag grommets on to pieces of leather using a diamond knot on one end and a lanyard knot on the other. The boys wear this “badge” dangling under the left side pocket flap of their uniforms. It has been said that if the grommet is worn close to the heart it bring s the wearer good luck.

  10. Drew Fullhart Avatar
    Drew Fullhart

    I believe in giving them to a member of the color guard who retired the flag and then they are to be worn around the neck. Close to your heart. The grommets are part of the flag. And should be treated with the same respect s flag gets. A couple yesrs ago. We wrote letters to wounded servicemen and women in the armed forces hospital in D.C. (can’t remember the name) and I sent a set of grommets with my letter. And honestly. I wouldn’t agree with a neckercheif slide (or a waggle) but I’ve seen kids wearing them as pocket hangers on a string. Which I say is acceptable. Just don’t mske them into jewelry. Godspeed to you.

  11. Joe Avatar

    This was my post on FB recently. “Tonight I had the honor of participating in a flag retirement ceremony here at Camp Red Moon Island. The Arrow of Light scouts from the Chattahoochee Council performed an amazing, respectful, somber ceremony, that in all honesty it was the most moving tribite that I have ever witnessed in my 26 years of service the this nation. I dont have any pictures, I stood in silent tribute. I wish I knew the parents of each of the 30 plus scouts that participated in tonights cetemony so I could personally thank them for these young men. God bless them and the United States of America!” My follow up post was “I was asked what the significance was of the grommet the Boy Scouts presented to me Saturday night. Every flag has two grommets, usually made of brass, which are used to raise and lower it. That is how a grommet serves. Once a flag has completed its service it is retired by burning it. After the fire is out, Boy Scouts collect the grommets from the ashes and present one to a veteran, or active duty service member, or police officer, or somebody else who serves; as a token of respect for the service they have rendered to the nation and the flag. They can put it on their key chain, or in a shadow box or something similar. In that way, the grommet continues to serve, as a reminder of the flag that proudly waves over this great nation. Now you know why I was so moved by this gesture, four young men I had never met before this weekend chose to honor me with the first one recovered. Those are four extraordinary and thoughtful young men that any Boy Scout troop could be proud of, and I certainly hope they understood just how honored I was by their simple gesture and how much that little piece of brass means to me.”

  12. Bruce Woods Avatar
    Bruce Woods

    I was part of the Boy Scouts of America for two years and I tried to get my eagle. In the two years I spent with my troop I myself retired ten American flags. I took a grommet from each flag, bungee-like cord from and old book bag, and using two taunt line hitches I turned them into a necklace I wear everywhere. I was told that when you retire a flag that if the next morning you siphon through the ashes and pick them out it is considered good luck. I am usually skeptical of the whole good luck bad luck, but every time I wear them something good does happen.

  13. Robin Avatar

    I use them to make unique neckerchief slides for the kids that attend the ceremony.

  14. Colleen Rude-Hulbert Avatar
    Colleen Rude-Hulbert

    I am a Star Maker for the “Stars for our Troops” Program. It is a 501c3 non-profit corporation. We just received a request from another organization to send them the Grommets…Why you ask…Because they are using the metal to make a new bell for the USS Arizona.

    Contact is:
    Terry Harroun
    5752 S. Tiger Lily Place
    Tucson, Arizona 85747
    email: t.harroun@gmail.com

    (Please send her the # of grommets you are sending and the Tracking # from your package) You will need to go inside to mail them due to weight and container.

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