How To Correctly Retire an American Flag

Posted by Accent Banner on Jun 22, 2017 10:15:00 AM


Are you flying the American flag as part of your Independence Day celebration? If you haven't checked your flag to make sure it's in good repair, now's the perfect time to take it out of storage and give it a good look. Flags that are damaged should be repaired under the United States Flag Code, a comprehensive piece of the full U.S. Code that describes proper interaction with this great symbol of our nation.

And if your flag cannot be repaired, or it is stained or damaged and you don't have the resources to get it fixed, you should never just throw the flag in the trash. There's a proper method for "retiring" the American flag. According to the U.S. Flag Code, it needs to be disposed of in a dignified way, "preferably by burning." Thats right. . . burning.


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Retiring the U.S. Flag By Burning 


If you are retiring a flag by burning, the Flag Code doesn't give you many details on exactly how to do this. You'll have to turn to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW), an organization that advocates for U.S. Veterans and issues that matter to veterans like proper treatment of the flag, for further instruction.

The VFW has a suggested procedure for retiring a U.S. flag:

  1. Fold the flag properly. There is a procedure for folding the flag into a triangle for storing it so that it will never touch the floor or ground. This should be done with two people to ensure the flag is not dropped or damaged.
  2. Place the flag on a dedicated fire. While technically, any fire can be used, there's something about using a campfire or fire for burning refuse that doesn't meet the requirements for respectful disposal.
  3. Everyone in attendance should salute or place their hands over their hearts and at least one person present should say the Pledge of Allegiance.
  4. Remain silent for a brief time while the flag is completely burned.
  5. Extinguish the fire carefully according to local fire codes.

If you aren't up for the task yourself, or you're not sure you can give the flag the required respect, the VFW as well as other veterans groups and the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts can also take flags for proper disposal in a retirement ceremony. 

Another reason to rely on the experts: Many of today's flags are made out of synthetic fibers that don't burn like cotton. It may be beneficial to let the experts burn your flag so you aren't exposed to any harmful fumes that may be let off while burning.



Other Methods of Retiring the U.S. Flag    

There are other ways to properly -- and respectfully -- retire a flag besides burning. The flag can be:

  • Buried. Use a respectful wooden box that tightly seals around the flag. Fold the flag properly and bury it underground. You may even decide to use a patriotic marker over the burial location.
  • Shredded. It may not sound as proper, but a flag can be respectfully shredded using sharp scissors. However, once you've shredded the flag, the pieces should be burned or buried.
  • Recycled. Specific organizations, like American Flag Recycling can take your nylon flag for proper disposal so that it doesn't release hazardous gases when it burns.

Of course, once you've properly and respectfully retired your American flag, you'll want to replace it with a new and intact symbol of our nation. We can help you find the best flag for your needs. And, we're there to help with any other types of custom, historical, national or state flags you may need.

. Give us a call to learn more about how we can help!

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Topics: flags, retiring a flag

The History and Celebration of Flag Day

Posted by Accent Banner on Jun 14, 2017 2:35:48 PM


On June 14, 1777 the Continental Congress passed a resolution that would forever solidify the basic design of an iconic symbol - the American flag. Nearly 250 years later, the American flag is a symbol of freedom and hope around the world. In the United States it is flown on civic buildings, in front of homes, at ballfields, and carried in parades and in events by proud military personnel and civilians alike. 

The Flag Act that passed on June 14, 1777 reads as follows: 


"Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation."



While the number of stars has changed over the years to accurately portray the number of states in the union, the number of stripes has remained the same, serving as a reminder of the humble beginnings of the United States as thirteen colonies fighting for their independence. Since its official creation in 1777 the flag has gone through 27 iterations, though the one that we know today with fifty stars has been the official United States flag since 1960. 

In the 19th Century, public school teachers took the initiative to encourage the recognition of the flag's official creation on June 14th. Today, their efforts have been codified as "Flag Day." BJ Cigrand, a teacher in Wisconsin, was the first person to be publicly enthusiastic about making June 14th a day for honoring and recognizing the American flag. In 1885 he had his students celebrate the day, and in the ensuing years he continued to spread the idea of a Flag Day holiday by writing about the holiday in newspapers and magazines. One of his writings was published in the Chicago Argus, giving him a wide audience. He was eventually made Editor-in-Chief of the "American Standard," which provided him a platform to strongly advocate for Flag Day.


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Four years after Cigrand's efforts began, George Balch, a teacher in New York took up the cause and began observing Flag Day with his class. Balch's work was noticed by the State Board of Education who began to recognize the holiday. Two years later, the Betsy Ross House celebrated Flag Day, and a year later so did the Sons of the American Revolution of New York. Then, in 1894, New York state obligated all public buildings to display the flag on June 14th. That same year, 30,000 Chicago public school students celebrated Flag Day. Cigrand's work had paid off and Flag Day was gaining much attention. 

It wasn't just children who were celebrating the day, either. Government officials had taken notice of the holiday and were doing their part to mark June 14th as Flag Day. One of the more notable instances of such Flag Day observances is that of Secretary of the Interior Franklin Lane in 1914. During his remarks about the American Flag, Lane took a poetic approach, describing that the flag spoke to him, saying, ""I am what you make me; nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself."



While Flag Day continued to be celebrated by public school children and public officials across the United States, it was not until May of 1916 that Woodrow Wilson signed a proclamation commemorating June 14th as the day on which the American flag's design had been solidified. Even with that proclamation, the holiday wasn't made official until 1949 when President Truman signed a law creating National Flag Day in 1949.

If your American flag is starting to get a little ragged, Flag Day is the perfect time to replace your flag. Contact us today to find the right flag for your home, business, or organization.


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Topics: flags, U.S. Flags, flag day

A Brief History of the American Flag

Posted by Accent Banner on May 31, 2017 4:09:20 PM

 As Independence Day approaches, you are likely to see more and more American flags flying. While most people realize that the flag is a symbol of our nation, there are many other things about the flag that people may not know. To learn more about the American flag, consider this brief history of the American flag.


Brief History of the American Flag

Even before the United States was formed, the colonists used flags to represent this potential nation. A “Liberty Tree” flag, with a green pine tree and the saying, “An Appeal to Heaven,” was flown as early as 1775. Later, a flag known as the Grand Union flag was used. This flag was flown above George Washington's base on Prospect Hill on January 1, 1776.  


The Grand Union Flag of 1776

The Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act on June 14, 1777. Along with that came the basic design of the American flag, which called for “thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” Each of the three colors of the flag was chosen for a reason. Blue represents justice, vigilance, and perseverance. Red is for valor. White is for purity. 


Adding Stars for Each State

While the flag representing the United States today still has thirteen stripes, there are now fifty stars, each representing one of the states. Yet, the flag did not simply jump from thirteen stars and stripes to the flag we know today. Several changes were made to the flag between 1777 and now. One notable change was on January 13, 1794, when the flag was changed to fifteen stripes and fifteen stars to represent Vermont and Kentucky, who had been acquired since the original flag was designed.


George Washington With Betsy Ross and New Flag

On April 4, 1818, it was decided that while the flag would continue to gain stars for each state that joined the union, the flag would stay at thirteen stripes. As states were accepted into the union, their star would be added to the flag on the following 4th of July.

While stars continued to be added to the flag fairly steadily over the next roughly hundred years, it was not until June 24, 1912, that the next major change came as President William Howard Taft set forth specific proportions for the flag. The stars were placed in horizontal rows and one point of each star pointing upward.   

On August 21, 1959, with Hawaii added to the union, President Dwight D. Eisenhower set forth our current flag with fifty stars. There are nine rows of stars, with five rows of six stars each and four rows with five stars each.


Moments in Flag History


Of course, the American flag has a history beyond just the changes to the actual stars and stripes. Here are some of the big places the American flag has held in history:

  • Captain Robert Gray carried the American flag on his voyage around the world in 1787 on his ship The Columbia. The Columbia River, between what would become Washington and Oregon, was named after Captain Gray's ship. 
  • Even when the Southern states seceded from the union during the Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln would not allow their stars to be removed from the flag.
  • Robert Peary placed an American flag sewn by his wife at the North Pole in 1909.
  • In 1963, Barry Bishop placed the American flag on top of Mount Everest.
  • Neil Armstrong placed an American flag on the moon on July 20, 1969.
  • On September 11, 2001, just hours after the attacks on the World Trade Center, three New York City firefighters were photographed raising the American flag at Ground Zero. The photograph, “Raising the Flag at Ground Zero,” became a symbol of hope and triumph over disaster.

Flags can symbolize great things. If you are interested in beginning a history of your own flag, contact us.


Flag Care


Topics: American flag, flag history, flags and banners, flag