There is no "official" way to retire an American flag other than by burning. However, such a retirement is usually accompanied by a small ceremony, almost like a funeral. Some will insist that only a cherrywood fire is acceptable.

In my Scouting days, my troop was often called to retire flags. Usually we held the worn flag before the flames, while the Pledge of Allegiance was explained, line by line. It is certainly conceivable to conduct some simple theatrics, such as lowering the flag into the fire from a flagpole, but these obviously become dangerous.

The grommets of the flag may be fished out of the ashes. They are seen by some as a good luck charm. It is considered inappropriate to douse the fire used to burn the flag, or to use it for cooking until it has gone out.

Sick of US capitalist running dog lackeys? Want to test the Supreme Court ruling on Texas vs. Johnson? Annoyed that the media ignores you? Pyromaniac?

Most often the American flag is burnt for less than patriotic reasons. Rather than "retiring" the flag with a scout troop, flag burning is usually a form of symbolic protest to attract US media attention. Of course, the media doesn't actually broadcast the message of the protest itself, but at least protesters get the chance to see themselves on TV. To burn a flag with maximum media effect takes planning.

What you'll need:

Method:
  1. Lash your flag to the flagpole using the needle and thread. If you are particularly malicious, lash the flag upside down.
  2. Straighten the piece of wire, and connect it to the top of the flagpole at a 90 degree angle.
  3. Lash the top edge of the flag to the wire
  4. Your work should loosely resemble the crappy ASCII art below. (fig 1.)
    +-+------------+
    | |****________|
    | |****________|
    | |____________|
    | +------------+
    | |
    | |
    | |  (figure 1.)
    
  5. Feel free to bend the wire to give the classic Neil Armstrong "Wind-on-the-Moon" effect.
  6. Organise protestniks and Media Representative to be in the same place, at the same time. This is easier said than done.
  7. Douse flag in lighter fluid, and stand flag pole upright in bucket of sand/manure. Ask Media Rep if they're ready for some award winning footage.
  8. Light flag with matches.
  9. Dance around your towering inferno. Chant prepared witty slogan or for maximum irony, recite the Pledge of Allegiance .
  10. After the media begin to tire or the thread burns through, knock over the flag pole, and extinguish the flames with the bucket of sand/manure.
  11. Go home, and turn on CNN

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