If this spring finds your American flag tattered, worn or torn, bring it to Bedford VA for proper disposal in our new flag retirement drop box, available to all members of the community.

The United States has a set of laws for U.S. flag disposal known as the U.S. Flag Code, which states that if the flag is not in good enough condition to represent our country, it should be taken down and destroyed. But few people know what to do with old American flags. What is the proper way to retire an American flag? Whatever you do, you should not throw your flag in the garbage.

Michel and McLaughlan created the U.S. flag retirement drop box.

Ensuring worn flags disposed of properly

The flag retirement drop box at Bedford VA is a service newly offered to ensure worn flags get thrown away properly. Army Veteran and Bedford employee Greg Michel came up with the idea.

“I noticed some flags left for me in the recycle bins at work for disposal and thought other employees and Veterans might also have flags that need to be properly disposed of,” Michel, a materials handler, said. “I wanted to create a drop off option that was accessible to everyone.”

Flag drop boxes are generally available at local Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion posts.

“It only made sense to make one available at the local VA hospital where Veterans come on a routine basis,” he said.

Important to treat flags with respect

Michel and Marine Corps Veteran and fellow VA employee Scott McLaughlan sat down and brainstormed ideas for the flag retirement drop box design.

“I had the materials, tools and skills to build it,” McLaughlan said. “As a Veteran, how could I not help support this project to honor our nation’s flag? As an American, I think it’s important to treat these emblems with respect and retire them with dignity.”

Michel will take the collected flags to the American Legion for proper disposal in accordance with U.S. Code.

By Kat Bailey is a public affairs office and webmaster at the Bedford VA

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Published on May. 14, 2022

Estimated reading time is 1.8 min.

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  1. Stephen Cogliano May 16, 2022 at 11:22 am

    Try not to feel bad. Now you know. If there is further assistance needed please contact the Bedford VA and ask to speak to EMS. We will be very happy to help you and if reasonable, come and collect the flag.

  2. Susan Wells May 16, 2022 at 10:41 am

    The United States Flag Code is as it states, a Code. It is not a law. There are no flag police .
    Please make sure your flag is American Made. There are many of the Stars and Stripes or American flags being made in foreign countries.
    An organization called Stars for our Troops using the embroidered Stars from retired American made USA 3′ x 5′ flags to create mementos for our current military, veterans and first responders with a message to let them know they will not be forgotten. They are helping with recycling and giving new life to apart of our American Flag. Over 1 million Stars have been distributed around the world in 11 years with 260 Star Makers across the country contributing additionally to this number.

  3. Christopher blaney May 16, 2022 at 10:13 am

    The drop box is located in front of the police station. Great job by both employees, makes me feel proud to work around such talented and caring individuals.

  4. Jill Vaeth May 15, 2022 at 1:09 pm

    Where is the drop box located? I recently had a flag that was worn and torn, I threw it in trash. I didn’t know there was a protocol. I wish I knew. I’m very patriotic and feel so bad.

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