American Flag Care and Disposal

by Kristi Ries

People buy new American flags for various reasons: to honor a loved one, to show patriotism, in observance of a national holiday or to replace an older flag that has grown worn by years of use. Yet many Americans may not be aware of existing “flag protocol” – that is, how to properly dispose of a flag.

Because of its inherent symbolism, the U.S. flag carries special meaning and should be treated accordingly. Flags should never be defaced or be allowed to become tattered, faded or dirty. Once this occurs, the time has come to retire the flag in a respectful manner. The U.S. Flag Code states, “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”.

Many organizations, such as veterans associations, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, and other patriotic organizations are equipped to perform flag retirement ceremonies. Turning over your discarded flag to one of these groups ensures a fitting final tribute to your symbol of patriotism.

A few tips on flag selection and maintenance:

Many consumers seek out all-weather flags that are specifically created to withstand prolonged exposure to sunlight, wind and rain. This is recommended for those who wish to fly the flag outdoors, as in some areas pollution as well as inclement weather conditions will affect the fabric. If you live in an area of extreme weather (high winds) or plan to fly the flag daily, pay attention to the material used to construct the flag. These flags will often be more expensive than those created for indoor purposes or more infrequent display outside.

To help make your flag last longer in good condition, consider rotating flags every six months. This will cut down on any exposure to the elements and will guarantee that you always have a replacement flag on hand if one should become too damaged to display.

Flag of Argentina

The flag of Argentina is light blue and white and features a golden sun at its center. In Spanish, the sun is known as the Sol de Mayo (Sun of May) and is modeled after the symbol of the Incan Sun God, Inti. Before the national flag, the Sol de Mayo was used on the first Argentine coin in 1813. As for the colors of the flag, there are several theories about reasons behind them. Traditionally it is believed that a man named General Manuel Belgrano created the flag of Argentina with the colors used by the Criollos in the May Revolution of 1810. However, it is apparently more likely that the colors were based on the coat of arms of the House of Bourbon, Spain’s royal family. Other theorists believe the colors represent the sky, clouds and sun.

Flag of Argentina

Belgrano created the flag of Argentina during the Argentine War of Independence. As commanded a battle near Rosario, Argentina, Belgrano noticed that the colors of the Crown’s forces and the independence forces were the same, the yellow and red of Spain. Upon realizing this, Belgrano had the flag of Argentina created. However, Belgrano’s flag was still much different than the one used today. Instead of three horizontal stripes, it had two vertical stripes, one light blue and the other white. Belgrano’s soldiers first swore allegiance to this flag on February 27, 1812, on the Batería Libertad by the Paraná River. On that day, Belgrano is supposed to have said the following:

Soldados de la Patria, en este punto hemos tenido la gloria de vestir la escarapela nacional; en aquél (señalando la batería Independencia) nuestras armas aumentarán sus glorias. Juremos vencer a nuestros enemigos interiores y exteriores y la América del Sud será el templo de la Independencia y de la Libertad. En fe de que así lo juráis decid conmigo: ¡Viva la Patria!” Señor capitán y tropa destinada por la primera vez a la batería Independencia: id, posesionaos de ella y cumplid el juramento que acabáis de hacer.”

Which, according to Wikipedia, can be translated as:

Soldiers of the Fatherland, we have heretofore had the glory of wearing the national cockade; there (pointing to the Independence battery) shall our weapons enlarge their glory. Let us swear to defeat our enemies, internal and external, and South America will become the temple of Independence and Freedom. In testament that you so swear it, say with me: Long life to the Homeland!” (after the oath) “Lord Captain and troops chosen for the first time for the battery Independence: go, take possession of it and fulfill the oath you have just sworn”.

In Buenos Aires, the nation’s capital, the flag of Argentina was flown for the first time on August 23, 1821, atop the Saint Nicolas of Bari Church, where the Obelisco currently sits. The Argentine National Congress adopted it as its symbol on July 9, 1816, after the declaration of impendence. Since that time, the flag of Argentina has been the inspiration for the flags of other nations, such Uruguay and Paraguay.

The Bear Flag – California’s State Flag

The Bear Flag, California’s state flag, was adopted by the California State Legislature in 1911. It is white with a red stripe along the bottom and a red star in its upper left-hand corner. There’s also a California grizzly bear – a species now extinct – at the flag’s center. The bear depicted on the flag is modeled after the last wild Californian grizzly bear to be held in captivity. Named Monarch, the bear was held at Woodwards Gardens in San Francisco. After its death, it was preserved at the Academy of Sciences at Golden Gate Park.

Monarch the Bear

The original Bear Flag was flown during the 1846 Bear Flag Revolt. It was designed by a man named William L. Todd – nephew of Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd – using blackberry juice. Todd placed the star on the flag in recognition of the California Lone Star Flag, while the bear was meant to signify strength and unyielding resistance. The flag was raised for the first time in Sonoma, California. Supposedly, when it was hoisted, native Californians were heard saying “Coche,” the common name for a pig. Apparently, Todd had not drawn a very convincing Californian grizzly bear.

The Bear Flag

The colors of which the Bear Flag consists are white, old glory red, maple sugar, seal and Irish green. The color seal is used to shade the dark grizzly bear, the tufts of dirt in the plot of grass, the border of the plot and the words “California Republic.” Old glory red is used for the star, the tongue of the bear and the red stripe at the bottom of the flag. Irish green is used for the grass upon which the grizzly bear stands, and white is used for the bear’s claws.