When an American flag is no longer in a fit condition to serve as a symbol, the generally approved method of disposal is cremation. Usually, the flag is prepared in some way and then burned completely in a dignified ceremony.
- Salute the flag for the last time
The ceremony begins by hoisting the flag to full staff for the last time and either pledging allegiance or making brief remarks about the symbolism of the banner. Slowly lower the flag in a smooth motion without permitting it to touch the ground.
- Fold or cut up the flag
After detaching it from the petard, fold the flag in the approved triangular pattern with the canton, or starry field, outward. Alternatively, cut the canton out and cut each stripe free of what remains. The strips should be small enough to ensure a total burn.
- Burn the flag
Place the folded flag, or the first of the cut strips, into a fire. The fire should be hot enough to burn the flag completely. If the flag has been cut prior to burning, burn the canton last. During cremation, it is customary to say a few words about the flag's history and importance or to play mournful music.