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Statewide Culture 1

Flag Etiquette and Disposal Stations


We’ve all seen an American flag tattered and torn, flying when it’s ready to be replaced. Disposing of a flag should be done respectfully, and thanks to caring individuals, there are hundreds of flag disposal stations located across Arkansas.

The Stars and Stripes deserve respect all year round, but Old Glory gets a lot of attention from Memorial Day to Labor Day, on Flag Day and Independence Day in between. This summer, you may see flags flying on boats and campgrounds and waving in parades. The American flag is our nation’s most recognizable symbol of freedom, and there are some etiquette rules regarding her display and when it’s time, her disposal.

Buying a Flag

Buying a flag can be as simple as going to your local hardware or big box store. But did you know that 6% of American flags aren’t made in America? I prefer to buy American-made whenever possible, especially when selecting an American flag. If you want to be completely confident that your flag is American-made, Arkansas has two excellent options:

Arkansas Flag and Banner

Arkansas Flag and Banner – Located in the Historic Taborian Hall in Little Rock, Arkansas Flag and Banner has made flags for over 45 years. When you purchase an American flag, you also get impeccable customer service. They will contact you twice a year to ensure your flag is in top-notch condition and arrange repairs if needed. When the flag is ready to retire, they will assist you with the process and provide you with a coupon to purchase a new flag.

American Made Store – With locations in Brookland and Pocahontas and a few new ones on the way, the American Made Store is your one-stop-shop for all things American Made. The general-store feel will make you feel like you have stepped back in time. Still, the selection rivals most of your favorite shops and everything, including a large selection of American flags and flag flying accessories, meets their strict American-made standards.

Flag Etiquette

Flag Etiquette

Flying a flag is a beautiful display of patriotism and shows how proud we are to be Americans. Hanging a flag is not as simple as threading it on a pole and sticking it in your yard. The United States flag code specifies the proper display and disposal of American flags. Here are a few of the basics:

  • When flown on the same staff, the American flag should always be flown above other flags (such as the Arkansas flag).
  • When flown beside other flags, the U.S. Flag should be flown to its right to be on the left when viewed.
  • When flown vertically, the stars should be in the top left when viewed.
  • When staffed, the flag should be able to move freely.
  • Do not let the flag touch the ground.
  • The flag should be flown from sunrise to sunset or illuminated if flown in darkness.

You can always contact a service member, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, or an organization such as the American Legion or Veterans of Foreign Wars for assistance with flag etiquette.

Flag Etiquette: American Flag Folded

Retiring A Flag

There will come a time when a flag should no longer be flown. Tears, fading or general raggedness are all indicators that it is time to retire a flag. The U.S. Flag Code states, “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

  • Raise the flag one final time and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
  • Light a fire and lower the entire flag into the flames.
  • Burn the flag entirely to ashes. No remnants should remain.
  • Scatter the ashes or bury them ceremoniously.

While anyone can retire a flag, most people may feel more comfortable passing the flag on to an organization that regularly performs flag retirement ceremonies. Across Arkansas, there are hundreds of flag retirement drop-off stations.

Lower your flag and fold it correctly according to the U.S. Flag Code. Place the flag inside a dropbox, and the organization managing the dropbox will perform a flag retirement ceremony. If you want to participate in the ceremony, you can contact the managing organization.

Chances are, you have several retirement stations in your area. I was shocked at how many there were once I started looking for them. Flag stations are often near city halls, American Legion huts, Veterans of Foreign Wars posts, and stores like Walmart, Home Depot and Lowes. You can locate a box near you using an online search tool or check out one of these stations listed below.

Flag etiquette - flag retirement drop-off box

Ash Flat – Beside the Sharp County Courthouse
Batesville – VFW Post 10472 – 150 Triangle Lane
Conway – VFW Post 2259 – 1855 Old Morrilton Hwy
El Dorado – American Legion Post 10 – 1015 N West Ave – Pmb 253
Fort Smith – VFW Post 8845 – 3005 Tillis Ave
Jacksonville – Jacksonville Museum of Military History
Hot Springs – Recycling Drop-Off Center – Runyon and Valley Streets
Little Rock – American Legion Post 1 – 315 E. Capitol Avenue
McGehee – VFW Post 2220 – 22 Plainview Drive
Mountain View – Beside the courthouse
Paragould – Beside the Greene County Courthouse
Pine Bluff – VFW Post 4455 – 1518 East Harding Drive
Russellville – VFW Post 2283 – 4162 N Arkansas Ave
Searcy – VFW Post 2330 – 2107 Davis Drive
Springdale – American Legion Post – 200 N. Spring St
Van Buren – VFW Post – 23 N. 20th Street

Flag Day is celebrated on June 14 each year. Flag Day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777. Many groups perform flag retirement ceremonies on this day. Contact your local VFW Post if you are interested in observing a flag retirement ceremony.

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Julie Kohl works from home as a writer and teaches art part-time at a local private school. A former Yankee who was "converted" to the south by her husband, Julie has grasped on to rural life in a sleepy, blink-your-eyes-and-you'll-miss-it town in central Arkansas where they raise chickens, farm hay and bake bread. Julie loves adventure and sharing it with her husband and son. They frequent the trails, campgrounds and parks of Arkansas, always on the hunt for new adventures and new stories to share. Learn more on her blog Seek Adventures Media.

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