Many people assume that the American flag must be burned or otherwise retired in a dignified manner if it touches the ground. After all, allowing the American flag to touch the ground is a sign of disrespect. Even in the U.S. Flag Code, there’s a section stating that the American flag should never touch the ground or anything below it. As a result, countless American flags have been burned or retired after touching the ground. So, do you really need to burn or retire the American flag if it touches the ground?
According to the U.S. Flag Code, the American flag should “never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.” The American flag is symbolic of our nation’s values. Because of its symbolism, it’s considered disrespectful to allow the American flag to touch the ground or anything below it. Whether you’re planning to display it outside your home, inside your home or at your place your business, you should keep the American flag off the ground. You can either fly it on a flagpole, or you can display it on a wall. Regardless, you shouldn’t let it the American flag touch the ground or anything below it.
No, You Don’t Have to Burn or Retire the American Flag If It Touches the Ground
While you shouldn’t allow the American flag to touch the ground, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you must burn or retire it if it does the touch the ground. Nowhere in the U.S. Flag Code does it say that the American flag must be burned or retired if it touches the ground. This is simply has a myth that many Americans have come to believe over the years.
You should still use caution to avoid letting the American flag touch the ground. If you’re transporting it, be careful so that you don’t drop it. If you’re displaying it on a wall, use a proper mounting system. If for any reason the American flag touches the ground, however, you don’t have to burn or retire it.
When You Should Burn or Retire the American Flag
The American flag should only be burned or retired when it has degraded to a condition in which it’s no longer fitting for display. Touching the ground generally won’t degrade the American flag to that point. Rather, the American flag only needs to be burned or retired when it’s physically damaged with no possibility of being repaired or restored back to its original condition.