US Flag Retirement Ceremony Script and Details

Things/People required:

People needed for the ceremony:
  CFR (Chief of Flag Retirement)
  Scout/person to read the history of the flag
  The Scoutmaster, or leader of the organization
  A guest speaker (usually a veteran, or distinguished peron)
  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.

Optional People:
  Bugler (althoug it is preferred to have one)
  Singer for the National Anthem.

Materieals needed:
  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)

Generic Script:

Feel free to change to fit your needs.

- Posting of Colors
CFR: Greet people, and describe how the ceremony will open Ex: "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... post the colors" (flag is raised)
Bugler: Play 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 our choir members 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, does invocation
Prayer over
CFR: "Please Be Seated."
- Welcoming & 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 and rank of scout giving the history of the flag>>"
- Scout gives short history of flag
Scout: Gives a short history of the US flag.
CFR: "Thank you for giving us a 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: Describe the flag retirement ceremony.
Flag to be retired is raised
"To The Colors" is played as flag is raised
National Anthem is sang
- Color Guard retires the colors
CFR: "Please stand, and join me in retiring our nations flag."
CFR: "Men and Women in Military and Boy Scouts will salute, while the rest of us will put our hands over our heart."
CFR: "Post the colors"
Color guard: raise the flag
Bugler: Play 'to the colors' (on cue as flag is raised)
Everybody: Sing "Star Spangled Banner"
CFR: "Retire the colors"
Color guard: retire the colors, fold the flag.
Color Guard Captain: Bring 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. <<say scoutmaster's name>>, do you have anything to say before this flag is retired?"
Scout Master: "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, and all other flags it represents 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. They have"
CFR: "It has been concluded, that this flag, and all other flags it represents, will become unusable due to their proper service of tribute, memory, and love."
CFR: "Captain, prepare the flag for retirement."
CG Captain: "Yes Sir."
Flag Retirement Group moves to burn position prepares the flag for retirement
Burn Crew prepares fire
Color Guard solemnly unfolds the flag and holds it over the container the flag is to be retired in.
CFR: "Join us in the singing of 'God Bless America'"
Everybody: sing God Bless America
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.
Taps as flag burns
After taps, wait for flag to burn. If not totally burned after some time, finish ceremony
CFR: "Two. 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 Thee for our Country and its Flag, and for the liberty for which it stands. "To clean and purging flame we commit these Flags, worn-out in worthy service. As they yield their substance to the fire, may Thy 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 accecptable, 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.  The best way would be to bury them in a special location where you can leave a sign describing what is buried there.

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.