At the end of a US flag’s life, there is one last way it can be respectfully used.
Traditional military funeral customs dictate that veterans have an American flag draped over the casket. But what about the veterans that wish to be cremated? How should the flag be draped over those that have served if there is no casket? A cremation service in North Carolina has found a way to both honor these brave souls as well as properly retire used flags.
Carolina Cremation started their “Retire Your Flag with Honor” program in 2012. They placed plastic receptacles around the Salisbury, North Carolina area, allowing people to donate their old US flags. They then collect and properly fold them until it is time for them to be used. When a military veteran is to be cremated, they drape a used flag over the body. Cremating the covered body burns the flag in a dignified and respectful manner, following proper flag retiring etiquette.
Since the program’s inception, the flag cremation service has performed this special service with hundreds of local veterans. According to one of the funeral directors at Carolina Cremation, more than 1,000 used American flags have been donated. Flags of all shapes and sizes, including stick flags, have been contributed to this program.
One thing that makes this special for the family of the deceased is a star. A swatch of a single star from the flag used in the cremation is given to the family, along with the cremation certificate and ashes.
Creating a final memorial for brave men and women, this practice could possibly be adopted across the country. So instead of just retiring your flag, maybe let it honor a veteran in its final moments.
Credit: Salisbury Post