The burning of the American flag can often be considered controversial, although protected under the constitution. However, not all flag burning ceremonies are done in protest. Since 1937, the annual flag disposal ceremony has been an integral part of the American Legion's customs and traditions. This time-honored tradition was no different this year for residents who attended the annual ceremony held at the Bernard Hurst Post of the American Legion in Brookville on June 15 at 7 p.m.

It is a frequently asked question by many Americans, “What should I do when my flag needs replaced?”

The American Legion offers advice on its website for the disposal of flags that have become worn and tattered over time.

The Code suggests that, “when a flag has served its useful purpose, it should be destroyed, preferably by burning. For individual citizens, this should be done discreetly so that the act of destruction is not perceived as a protest or desecration. Many American Legion Posts conduct Disposal of Unserviceable Flag Ceremonies on June 14, Flag Day, each year. This ceremony creates a particularly dignified and solemn occasion for the disposal of unserviceable flags.”

Residents who had a flag to dispose of were able to drop their flags off at the town administration building or to 52 Pik-Up for drop off before the ceremony.

The American Legion had two boxes of flags collected that had become faded and worn and were disposed of during the ceremony.

During the ceremony, after the first vice-commander recommends the flags have become unserviceable, the commander says these words:

“Comrades, we have presented here these flags of our country which have been inspected and condemned as unserviceable. They have reached their present state in a proper service of tribute, memory and love. A flag may be a flimsy bit of printed gauze or a beautiful banner of finest silk. Its intrinsic value may be trifling our great; but its real value is beyond price, for it is a precious symbol of all that we and our comrades' have worked for and lived for and died for a free nation of free men, true to the faith of the past, devoted to the ideals and practice of justice, freedom and democracy.
Let these faded flags of our country be retired and destroyed with respectful and honorable rites and their places be taken by bright new flags of the same size and kind, and let no grave of our soldier or sailor dead be unhonored and unmarked. Sergeant-at-Arms, assemble the color guard, escort the detail bearing the flags and destroy these flags by burning. The members shall stand at attention.”

After the chaplain offers a prayer, a hand salute is given before the flags are burned.

Each year the ceremony is open to the public for the observance. This year due to COVID-19, the service wasn't as well attended by the public, but residents were still in attendance, along with the veterans conducting the ceremony.

Proper flag etiquette

Hanging the American flag from your front porch is an easy way to showcase your gratitude and appreciation for the incredible freedoms we enjoy every day in the United States. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when flying your flag approved by the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW).

On Same Staff 

U.S. flag at peak, above any other flag. 

Grouped 

U.S. flag goes to its own right. Flags of other nations are flown at same height. 

Marching 

U.S. flag to marchers right (observer's left). 

On Speaker's Platform

When displayed with a speaker's platform, it must be above and behind the speaker. If mounted on a staff, it is on the speaker's right.

Decoration

Never use the flag for decoration. Use bunting with the blue on top, then white, then red. 

Salute

All persons present in uniform should render the military salute. Members of the armed forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute. All other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. 

Over a Street 

Union (stars) face north or east, depending on the direction of the street. 

Half Staff

On special days, the flag may be flown at half-staff. On Memorial Day, it is flown at half-staff until noon and then raised. 

Special Rules

 Do not let the flag touch the ground. 
 Do not fly the flag upside down unless there is an emergency. 
 Do not carry the flag flat or carry things in it. 
 Do not use the flag as clothing. 
 Do not store the flag where it can get dirty. 
 Do not use it as a cover. 
 Do not fasten it or tie it back. Always allow it to fall free. 
 Do not draw on, or otherwise mark the flag. 

Illumination Guidelines

Per Federal Flag Code, Section 2, paragraph (a), it is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.