US Flag Retirement Ceremony Script and Details
People needed for the ceremony:
CFR (Chief of Flag Retirement)
Person to read the history of the flag
The leader of the ceremony
A guest speaker (usually a veteran, or distinguished person)
Person to give the invocation/benediction
Color Guard (with Color Guard captain)
Burn Crew (to make sure the flag burns properly, and doesn't get out of hand)
Scouts/people to help as ushers and with parking.
Bugler (although it is preferred to have one)
Singer for the National Anthem.
A metal container to burn the flag/flags in
A podium or place for people to speak, with loudspeakers if necessary
Places for an audience to sit
Proper Safety Equipment (fire extinguisher)
Feel free to change to fit your needs.
Posting of Colors
• CFR: Greet people, and describe how the ceremony will open Example: "Good morning, and thank you for attending this ceremony. We will start with the posting of the colors."
• CFR: "Please stand for the posting of the colors"
• CFR: "Color Guard prepare to post the colors" (Color Guard comes forward)
• CFR: "Color Guard... post the colors" (retiring flag is raised)
• Bugler: Plays To The Colors (on cue as flag starts up)
• Flag reaches the top
• CFR: "Please join me in the pledge of allegance."
• CFR: "I pledge allegiance to the flag, or the United States of America. And to the republic for which it stands, one nation under god, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
• CFR: (optional) "Please join in the singing of our National Anthem."
• Sing the National Anthem, guest singer may be used.
• Prayer- Introduce the person giving the invocation.
• CFR: " <<say name>>, will lead us with the invocation."
• Person giving the invocation takes stage and does invocation
• After prayer
• CFR: "Please Be Seated."
- Welcome & Introduction of ceremony
• CFR: Explain why you are doing this ceremony.
- Points to include:
• The US code title 36, section 176 states: "The Flag, when it is in such condition that is is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning."
• Increased amounts of people flying the flag have caused more and more to become worn.
• Retiring flags provides a service to the community, and the nation.
• CFR: Explain who is involved in the ceremony, and thank any important individuals, groups, and businesses.
• "We will open our ceremony with a short history of the US flag, given by <<say name of pathfinder or staff giving the history of the flag>>"
• Pathfinder: Gives a short history of the US flag.
• CFR: "Thank you for giving us an outlook on the history of our flag."
- Introduction of guest speaker
• CFR: "It is my honor to introduce <<say name, and position/rank of guest speaker>> Who will give a speech on <<say the topic of the speech>>"
• Guest speaker:Gives speech/presentation
• CFR: "Thank you <<guest speaker>>"
- Flag Retirement
• CFR: "We will now begin our formal flag retirement ceremony. "
• CFR: "Please stand, and join me in retiring our nations flag."
• CFR: "Individuals in uniform will salute, while the rest will put thier hands over their heart."
• CFR: "Present Arms"
• Burn Crew prepares fire
• CFR: "Color Guard prepare to retire the colors" (Color Guard comes forward)
• CFR: "Color Guard retire the colors"
• Color guard: retires the colors, folds the flag
• CFR: "Order Arms"
• Color Guard Captain: Brings the flag to CFR
• CG Captain: "Sir, We present this Flag that has proudly flown over our nation and it's war dead. It is ready for retirement"
• CFR: "Thank You. <<Leader of the Ceremony>>, do you have anything to say before this flag is retired?"
• Leader: "Has this flag represented this nation with honor and pride, and become worn as the result of its usual service as the Emblem of our Country? "
• CG Captain: "Yes Sir. It has."
• CFR: "<<Say guest speaker's name>>, do you have anything to say before this flag is retired?."
• Guest Speaker: "Has this flag become unserviceable while flying over our country in times of peace and war, and as our nation's men and women died in defending it's honor."
• CG Captain: "Yes Sir. It has"
• CFR: "It has been concluded, that this flag, has become unusable due to it’s proper service of tribute, memory, and love."
• CFR: "Captain, prepare the flag for retirement."
• CG Captain: "Yes Sir."
• CFR: "Present Arms"
• Flag Retirement Group moves to burn position prepares the flag for retirement
• Color Guard solemnly unfolds the flag and holds it over the fire that the flag is to be retired in. (do not burn yet)
• CFR: "Join us in the singing of 'God Bless America'"
• Everybody: sing God Bless America
• After singing retire the flag. If there is a small amount of flags to be retired, place them in too. If there are a considerable amount of flags to be retired, retire just one, and wait until after the ceremony to retire the rest. (Nylon flags will flare up, a cotton flag is preferred during a ceremony)
• Taps plays as flag burns
• After taps, wait for flag to burn. If not totally burned after some time, finishceremony
• CFR: "Order Arms. Please bow your heads as <<person giving the benediction>> leads us in the benediction"
• CFR: "Almighty God, Captain of all hosts and Commander over all, bless and consecrate this present hour. "We thank you for our Country and its Flag, and for the liberty for which it stands. "To the clean and purging flame we commit these Flags, worn-out in worthy service. As they yield their substance to the fire, may your Holy Light spread over us and bring to our hearts renewed devotion to God and Country. Amen."
• CFR: "This concludes our US flag retirement ceremony. May we go home, and not forget the importance of our country's most precious symbol, the US flag. Thank you for attending."
Other Points:If you have a large amount of flags to be retired, retire one during the ceremony in honor of the others, and retire the rest after the ceremony, or have a local funeral home donate their services and have the flags cremated.
After the retirement, polish the leftover grommets, and give them to veterans, important people in the community, people who helped or attended, or to whomever you see fit. They are like having an American Flag on your keychain.
Be careful when burning the flags. If it is a windy day, have something to put over the container to keep ashes, or un-burnt pieces of the flag from flying out of the container.
If you are going to burn just one flag for the ceremony, chose a flag that is preferably made out of cotton. Be careful when burning nylon and polyester flags. I've had different results with each. Nylon flags melt and leave a sticky mess, and polyester flags aren't the best for burning either.
Some ceremonies call for the flag to be cut up before being retired. This is acceptable, yet not mandatory. The only law is in the US flag code, as follows: The Flag, when it is in such condition that is is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.
Make sure that the flag is burned entirely, so that it is unrecognizable as an American Flag.
When you are done, the ashes may be buried, or scattered as desired.
Remember, this is a very solemn ceremony. It is like a funeral. We are laying US Flags to rest. A large group is not needed, yet veterans and some other people in the community might find the need to attend to pay respect for the flag as it is retired. Large groups of people should usually not be invited, unless it's for a special purpose.