When Should a Flag Retirement Ceremony Be Held?
The United States Flag Code states, “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” Some people will say that you must do it this way or that way, but according to the United States Flag Code, it just needs to be done with dignity.
This simple flag retirement ceremony is appropriate for use with Cub Scouts. Take some time beforehand to explain that this is a dignified ceremony and they should try to stay as quiet and respectful as possible during it. It is a very short ceremony, but it probably won’t seem that way to young Cub Scouts.
This ceremony is simple enough for Webelos to do it while working on their Building a Better World adventure.
For synthetic flags, consider burying them instead or find a location which accepts these flags for disposal. Synthetic flags can let off toxic fumes when burned. Burying a flag is also a respectful option. You can still use most of the ceremony below.
Flag Retirement Ceremony (Simple)
This simple ceremony is appropriate to teach Cub Scouts how to retire an American flag which has become too worn for service.
A United States flag which is no longer suitable for display
fire, prepared ahead of time
MC: We have come together to dispose of a flag which is no longer serviceable. This flag has served as a reminder of our nation and those who have defended our freedom. It has served us well.
MC: The United States Flag Code states: “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”
MC: Please bring the flag forward and display it one last time.
Two Scouts bring the flag forward, unfold it, and hold it so it is properly displayed to the audience. If the flag has a special significance or history, it should be mentioned.
MC : Please join me in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Say the Pledge of Allegiance
MC: Please fold the flag.
The Scouts fold the flag properly. Young Scouts might need assistance from a leader.
MC: We ask that everyone maintain a respectful silence as this flag is retired. Please retire the flag.
A leader places the flag carefully in the fire. The audience waits in silence until the flag is completely consumed by the fire.
MC: Thank you for joining us for this solemn ceremony. God bless America!