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The American Flag is a representation of our country, our people and the devotion we have to our nation. Not only does the American Flag act as a symbol of our great nation’s freedom, but it is a representation of our country’s citizens and the history of this great nation. For these and many other reasons, it is important to respect the Flag.

Respecting the American Flag means there are certain levels of care for the Flag at all times. The Flag should be kept in good condition by making sure it is clean, dry, protected from harsh conditions and displayed in a respectful manner. These are several ways to continue the tradition of respect for the American Flag, but what should you do if the Flag becomes damaged beyond repair?

Throughout the years Flags may become damaged, old, or torn and, when a Flag is worn beyond repair, it is time for it to be retired in a dignified manner. The most accepted manner is to cut the blue field of stars from the red and white stripes, thereby no longer rendering it a flag. The resulting two pieces of cloth are burned in one or two separate fires that are used for nothing else except the retirement ceremony. The Flag may also be folded in its customary manner before placing it on the fire. The pieces of cloth should be thoroughly burned so that nothing is left that is recognizable as a flag. The ashes should be scattered or buried. In many communities, organizations like the American Legion and Boy Scouts have ceremonies to retire flags throughout the year.

Broward County residents can now dispose of old, tattered and torn flags at Broward County Government Center locations and various other locations in the County. I was inspired when I heard about a program that the National Association of Counties was doing with the National Flag Foundation and the National Sheriff’s Association. I am proud to have brought this resource to the Broward County Board of County Commissioners. We will now provide Flag retirement boxes in several facilities around the county. Flags deposited in the boxes will be collected and disposed of properly and should be folded appropriately before being placed in the box. Broward County is participating in this program as part of a national campaign to support Flag etiquette to ensure a dignified retirement for the American Flag. The program also provides a great opportunity to educate the public about the proper care for the American Flag.

The program has been up and running throughout summer with great success. This great success has prompted The Flag Disposal Program to be expanded to several parks in Broward County. It is our hope to continue to provide this service throughout Broward County, while promoting the importance of proper flag etiquette and the proper way to dispose of an American Flag.