To show respect for the flag, treat it properly
While Albert Lea American Legion Cmdr. Jeff Olson served in the military, he carried around a small American flag at all times, he said.
“That’s what I joined the military for,” he said.
“I know, as a veteran, that flag means a lot to veterans,” he said. “We fight for that flag. We fight … for anybody’s rights for that American flag, and that’s a big deal to us.”
But when a flag becomes faded or torn, it has reached the end of its life, Olson said.
He said to respectfully dispose of an American flag, it must be burnt.
While a person or family can burn their flag, Olson said it must be done in a private ceremony so it is not considered a desecration of the flag.
The American Legion hosts its own ceremony to dispose of old flags, which it collects year-round for the once-a-year ceremony near Flag Day. The fire department is present, as is a flag detail, and the flags are put on a rack and lit. After the ceremony, taps is played.
Olson estimated the Legion disposes of between 50 and 75 flags a year this way. American Legion organizations have done so since 1934, when it was agreed at the national convention that the Legion organization would offer this service as a respectful way to dispose of flags.
To care for your American flag during its life, take it in every night unless you have a light trained on it, Olson said. Bring in the flag during storms, and fold it and store it in your home. Keep the flag off the ground.