The Flag Retirement Ceremony

SPL holds up Scout sign until the Troop is quiet and ready to begin.


On June 14, 1777, President George Washington signed an Act of Congress which read:

“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.”

The flag of the United States was now official.  It is believed that Congressman Francis Hopkinson introduced the design to Congress and that Betsy Ross made the first flag in her seamstress shop in Philadelphia.  As new states were admitted to the union, a new star and a new stripe were added to the flag.  When this got to be a problem, Congress passed another act on April 4, 1818 fixing the number of stripes to thirteen and a star for each state.


The United States 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:




Tonight, we have flags to retire.  

Before we retire the flags, we will offer a final tribute to these flags.  While we will only use one flag in the final tribute ceremony, that flag will represent all the flags being retired this evening.


Remember as you look at the Flag, it is the symbol of our nation, it is red because of human sacrifice; blue because of the true blue loyalty of its defenders; and white symbolizes liberty – our land of the free.  The stars are symbols of the united efforts and hope in the hearts of the many people striving to keep America great.


We will now offer a final tribute.
Troop Attention, Color Guard Advance

Flag Bearer walks in the center position and slightly forward.  Color Guard 1 is to left Flag Bearer – he carries nothing, but has a knife available for cutting down the colors.  Color Guard 2 is to the Flag Bearer right and carries all other flags to be retired in arms folded across chest.

Troop Salute, Color Guard Post the Colors
Please join me in the Pledge of Allegiance


Color Guard Remove the Colors

Color Guard 1 cuts down the colors and Color Guard 1 and Flag Bearer fold the flag into a rectangular shape, with blue field exposed.  Color Guard 1 holds the folded flag in crossed arms.


For the remainder of the ceremony, please stand at attention and remain absolutely silent.  At the end of the ceremony I will make a final salute.  I would ask that you salute with me.  When I release the salute, you may release your salute and exit the area in silence.  I would like to remind you, that once the flags have been placed into the fire, nothing else may be placed on the fire.


“I am old glory; for more than 9 score years I have been the banner of hope and freedom for generation after generation of Americans.  Born amid the first flames of America’s fight for freedom, I am the symbol of a country that has grown from a little group of 13 colonies to a united nation of 50 sovereign states.  Planted firmly on the high pinnacle of American Faith, my gently fluttering folds have proved an inspiration to untold millions.  Men have followed me into battle with unwavering courage.  They have looked upon me as a symbol of national unity.  They have prayed that they and their fellow citizens might continue to enjoy the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness, which have been granted to every American as the heritage of free men.  So long as men love liberty more than life itself, so long as they treasure the priceless privileges bought with the blood of our forefathers; so long as the principles of truth, justice and charity for all remain deeply rooted in human hearts, I shall continue to be the enduring banner of the United States of America.”


Color Guard Retire the Colors

Color Guard 1 places the first flag on the fire.  He then retrieves the stick for tending the fire.

When the first flag is consumed, Flag Bearer takes the second flag from Color Guard 2 and places it on the fire. When the second flag is consumed, Color Guard 2 places the third flag on the fire.

The Color guard should stay to the side of the fire so that all attendees may observe.

When the final flag is consumed, SPL salutes and holds for approximately 10 seconds, then releases.  The Troop exits the area in silence.  The ceremony is now complete.