How to Properly Display and Dispose of American Flags

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flag disposal collection box in Government Center lobby


Did you know the average outdoor flag lasts only about 90 days? Flying the stars and stripes outside your home is a great way to showcase pride in our county. But the ever-changing weather and the blasting rays of the sun will inevitably result in a worn-out flag.

The United States has a set of laws pertaining to disposal known as the United States Flag Code, or “retiring the flag."



If you have an American flag like this, you can properly dispose of it at a few county government locations:


When you walk into the lobby of the Government Center (12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax), you’ll see a new flag disposal box located near the main information desk. The American Legion will collect flags and conduct a Flag Retirement Ceremony at its site.


Flag disposal boxes are now located at the I-66 Transfer Station and I-95 Landfill Complex and are available during residential hours. The American Legion will collect flags and conduct a Flag Retirement Ceremony at its site.


All Fairfax County Police stations accept American flags and they are collected twice a year by Police Honor Guard for proper disposal.



You can bury a flag in the ground in a well-constructed container to keep it protected. In the U.S. Flag Code, it states the cloth should not come in contact with the ground or dirt. Fold it properly and place it in the box. Take a moment of silence or respectfully say a few words as you bury the box.



Shredding gives you multiple options to either burn, bury, or recycle the material once it is disassembled. But you must do this in a proper and respectful manner, as with all American flag disposal options.

In the first technique, you must separate each of the white and red stripes.

The other option is to cut the flag in half vertically, and then again horizontally.

The most important step for both procedures is to make sure the blue section with the stars stays intact.

Flag recycling is common with synthetic, and nylon made flags because burning these materials can be hazardous.


The federal government's website provides resources about the American flag, including how to properly display it in various settings




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