If the flag touches the ground, it must be burned!
I’m not sure where this myth started, but I’ve heard it most of my life. In recent days, with all the focus on the flag and flag etiquette because of former President Ford’s death, I have noticed several articles in papers across the United States quoting this as fact.
To be clear, here is the text from the United States Flag Code in Title 4; Chapter1; Section 8(b):
(b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the
ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
This part of the code is in the “Respect the Flag” section and clearly indicates the carefulness someone should take in displaying the flag with particular attention paid to the surroundings. If the flag touches any of the mentioned items, it should be resolved quickly.
I think the confusion comes from Section 8(k), where the code indicates;
(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.
This is a clear reference to the physical condition of the flag, and indeed, a tattered or worn and faded flag should never be flown, out of respect. This section clearly states that when the flag is in “such condition” which is never fully defined in the code, but the US flag code never indicates this policy for a flag inadvertently touching the ground.
Always fly the flag with respect and when necessary, dispose of the flag in a dignified manner.