Many folks don’t realize that the American Legion was responsible for establishing the groundwork on American Flag Etiquette, which eventually evolved into The Flag Code, Title 4 of the US Code, Chapter 1, on June 14-15, 1923.

The reason for their efforts was to formally codify the do’s and don’ts of not only flag decoration, presentation and service, but also when the flag becomes “unserviceable in a worthy cause” after constant use, how to honorably “retire” the colors.

Respect for the Flag: 8(k) 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.

Last Saturday in memory of those lost at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, members of the Grand Forks Air Force Base Honor Guard, military and civilian participants, and American Legion representatives conducted a Formal Flag Retirement Ceremony.

Over 50 flags were honorably retired – burned/incinerated at the base Honor Guard facility. The American Legion is planning on another ceremony in the springtime.

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This is a reminder to the greater community of Grand Forks to make sure flags are dispositioned according to the rules and regulations provided. Like many community-minded patriots, if you have a stash of old, ragged and weathered colors, please bring those unserviceable flags to the sixth floor of the County Office Building near the Veterans Administration VA office downtown on Fourth Street. There’s a cardboard kiosk there where you can place the flags you may have for formal disposition.

For further information and FAQs, please see the American Legion website at and follow the links to “Flag Etiquette.”