Retiring old flags in time for Fourth of July

Retiring old flags in time for Fourth of July

The United States Flag Code instructs what to do with your old flag. The United States Flag Code instructs what to do with your old flag.

6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – The Independence Day holiday often leads people to purchase new American flags. However, some people may not know that after the flags have done their duty, whether it's in combat or simply flying in front of a home, they need to be officially and properly retired.

Tom Allen, could be called a keeper of the flags. He sells them, repairs them and when they served their duty, he retires them.

"To let a flag wear out is disrespectful to the flag and to the country," said Allen. His business, Allen Signs, is one of the flag collecting sites in Knoxville. Allen gives used flags to veterans groups like the Elk Lodge, who give them a proper send-off.

"I'm a military veteran. The flag means so much to me. I fought for this flag. I fought for this country, and I believe this flag deserves a proper disposal," said Gerald Robinson, the coordinator of veterans affair for Elks Lodge #160. 

Robinson has been in charge of the Flag Day ceremony for half a decade, proudly helping put Old Glory to rest.

According to the United States Flag Code, burning is the proper way to dispose of a flag, preferably on a ceremonial pyre. The flag should also be cut before it is burned.

"You're cutting the field of blue and stars away from the stripes," Robinson explained.

Last year, the Elks Lodge burned several thousand tattered and worn flags at their annual ceremony.

Allen as well as the flag code say once it starts fraying, it's time to lay it to rest.

"We do it to honor the country. We're proud of the flag and want to support the country that way. It's the right thing to do with your flag," Allen said.

Flags may be dropped off at the eight Knox County Solid Waste and Recycling Convenience Centers, at Allen Signs at either its 2408 Chapman Highway or 8403 Kingston Pike locations, or at City of Knoxville Recycling Centers that include a staffed Goodwill trailer. Those locations include:

  • 2217 Broadway (Broadway Shopping Center)
  • 5003 Broadway (Fountain City Kroger)
  • Downtown Recycling Center, 400 State Street
  • 4440 Western Avenue (I-640 Plaza)
  • 4918 Kingston Pike (Knox Plaza)
  • 225 W. Moody Avenue
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