Often, flags are only displayed for a short period of time and usually for a special occasion.
Though it is impossible to have an accurate count, it is estimated that there are somewhere around five million American Flags being flown around the country at any given time. Many locations have a multiplicity of flags displayed. During the Fourth of July Celebration that number easily doubles. Consider ten million American Flags from sea to shining sea.
As mentioned, we are taught about the inherent good involved in displaying the Symbol of Liberty. Rarely, however, is anyone ever instructed in the idea that flags require maintenance.
We see the destructive power of weather, the sun, dirt and chemical pollution all around us; some places more than others. The American economy absorbs billions of dollars every month that is spent on stuff to protect us from the elements and pollution. A home owner may have a garage that costs thousands of dollars to protect his car from the punishing sun, wind, and rain. Corporations, business and industry invests huge sums in construction of buildings to keep out sun, wind and rain. Billions of dollars are spent each month on the development and maintenance of buildings and properties that are designed functionally as forms of protection from destructive elements. Obviously, the elements are destructive.
Question: Why, then, is the American Flag not accorded the same amount of protection?
Answer: Because the American Flag is designed to be displayed unencumbered as the Symbol of Liberty.
Question: How, then, is the American Flag to be protected?
a. The Flag can be dry cleaned.
b. The Flag can have minor repairs that can easily be done by the seamstress at the local dry cleaner.
c. Rotation. Have two flags. When the one being displayed begins to have minor problems, replace it while it is being cleaned and/or repaired.
d. Remove and Replace. Have a replacement flag on hand so that when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, it should be retired.
e. Retirement and Disposal. The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.
At this time, the maintenance cycle of the flag is over. Arrangements should already be in place for proper disposal. More often than not, these flags are turned over to a local patriotic organization that performs these ceremonies. Keep in mind that just because there are veteran, Scouting and other patriotic organizations in the local area, often times they are not equipped to perform flag retirement ceremonies. In that event, we encourage you to send your flags to us and we’ll ensure they are properly retired and destroyed.
Additionally, we proudly accept other official governmental flags for retirement: POW, municipal, county, state, etc.
We have proudly accepted flags of Foreign Countries that are considered friends of the United States of America.
Encourage the idea of incorporating a line item in your budget for at least one additional flag, flag maintenance and replacement. Budget for the right flag to do the job.
Flag Selection Considerations
Selecting the right flag for your needs is the most important consideration in selecting a flag.
Flag Material. A flag suitable for extremely heavy winds and one that will be flown daily will be more expensive than a flag of similar size that would be fine for casual and infrequent display in a moderate climate zone.
Flag Size. Most flag manufacturers websites have ‘flag to flag pole’ charts indicating the maximum size of a flag for a particular flag pole.
Flag Pole Size. Flag pole size is based upon the size and the weight of the largest flag that the pole can safely carry in heavy winds. Additionally, the larger the flag pole, the stronger the method of anchoring the flag pole must be.
Location. The location of the flag pole on the property is dictated typically by four variables:
(1) Engineering and Building Code. Can the location/ground/structure etc support that particular flag load under prescribed conditions? Different local zoning rules vary considerably for placement, height, etc.
(2) Flag Rules and Etiquette. The U.S. Flag Code has very specific instructions citing the placement and display of the flag. Describing flag pole location at a military base according to the Code is very easy and straight forward. Flag display in the civilian environment is another matter because rarely is the Flag Code a consideration, or, even known about. Flags and flag poles have been placed in all kinds of configurations; often incorrectly. Advice - contact a flag manufacturer or give us a call to find out about flag placement.
(3) Weather Conditions.
(4) Costs. Local pollution, amount of time the flag will be in service and handling will effect costs.
If asked to bring, unfurl and present your organization’s American Flag at an important function would you bring a flag that is dirty, tattered and/or faded? We know you wouldn^t, but the point is that we often neglect the condition of our flag. We simply have to become more aware.
Assign a Flag Keeper. That person can join us as a volunteer but that is not a requirement. Your Flag Keeper will make monthly assessments of your flag’s condition as well as whenever a significant weather event occurs in your area. Always ensure your organization is flyin a serviceable flag. It does not have to be in perfect condition. But it certainly should be in good enough condition that casual observation will not notice holes, rips and advanced fade.
Across the board we as Americans and flag lovers need to reevaluate our flag priorities. We have to learn to take care of our flag because for the most part we were never taught about flag maintenance. We all can help make America a better place by cleaning up our flag act.
If you have any flag maintenance questions email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Flag Keepers, Inc is an all volunteer nonprofit organization that is totally supported by the generosity of viewers like you. We are a listed project with the National Heritage Foundation (NHF).
American Flag Maintenance, How to Take care of an American Flag, Tattered American Flag Reporting and American Flag Disposal Service