Rules for Displaying the American Flag

30 06 2013

IMG_5440The Fourth of July holiday brings out American patriotism like no other day of the year. Americans flock to stores and purchase anything red, white and blue. We dig through storage, pull out last year’s leftover items, and retrieve that neglected flag. July 4th parties drip with flag emblems on our bodies, our table settings, our décor, and even our food. The more American flags displayed the better, right? Well, not so much. According to the United States Flag Code, we’re doing it all wrong. Breaking the code is breaking the law, although we have no punishment set for doing so. It’s more on the honor code.

I received my first American flag for display, along with some basic rules of flag etiquette, from my uncle and aunt. After familiarizing myself with the information given, I’ve flown that flag many days since. The U.S. Flag Code is so comprehensive that I learn something new every time I hear or read more about it. In fact, I just moved my flag to a different location on my porch since learning that I was breaking two of the codes. Two! Despite being drastically pruned every fall, my hydrangea beneath the flag grew so high that the flag rested on it, and that’s a no-no. Also, I moved it to the proper side of my front door so that it flies to the left of the door when I face the house. Note: When I say “I” moved it, I mean my husband moved it since he’s a measurer and I’m an eyeballer—it keeps the peace.IMG_5889

I’d love to share every bit of information about storing, caring for, and displaying the American flag, but I’ll cover some basics for the average patriot wanting to be code-correct for any season. Wherever you reside and whatever country’s flag you choose to display, I encourage you to first read up on flag etiquette pertaining to that beloved place.

The Do’s for Displaying the American Flag

  • The flag can be displayed every day.
  • Display it only from sunrise to sunset, unless properly lit at night.
  • Hoist it briskly and lower it ceremoniously.
  • It should always fall freely.
  • If projecting from a building, the Union blue should be at the peak of the staff.
  • If hung vertically or horizontally on a wall, window or door, the Union blue should be on the left.
  • If hung vertically over a street running north-south, the Union should face east.
  • If hung vertically over a street running east-west, the Union should face north.
  • If hung with other flags, the American flag should be the first raised and the last lowered, and should be placed highest and at the center.
  • If the flag cannot be flown at half-staff, then tie a black ribbon near the top of the pole.
  • Store the flag neatly folded.
  • Clean and mend the flag when necessary.
  • Burn a flag only when it is beyond repair, with a fire large enough to burn the entire flag at once. Place it on the fire, come to attention, salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and have a moment of silence.
  • Wear flag pins only on your left side, close to your heart.

The Don’ts for Displaying the American Flag

  • Do not display it at night unless properly lit.
  • Do not display the flag in inclement weather unless it is rainproof.
  • It should never touch anything beneath it.
  • Do not hang it with the Union side down unless you mean to signal dire distress of extreme danger to life or property.
  • Never drape it over a vehicle of any kind.
  • Never display it on the ceiling.
  • Never place anything on it.
  • Never have anything marked on it.
  • Never bunch or wad it up.
  • Never use it as a receptacle for carrying, holding, receiving, or delivering anything.
  • Never step on it.
  • Never place any flag above it.
  • The flag image should never be printed on anything meant for temporary use including stamps, napkins, plates, cups, packaging and boxes.
  • The flag image should never be sewn, printed or even impressed onto décor, apparel, handkerchiefs, bedding, drapery, athletic uniforms or costumes. Athletic uniforms may display a flag patch.
  • Never throw a flag away. If you do not want to burn it yourself, give it to the Boy Scouts of America, the Girl Scouts of the USA, or any organization that customarily burns it on Flag Day.

For flags flown at public or private institutions, in ceremonies or parades, or for any other public or private purpose, please read the entire U.S. Flag Code.

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24 09 2014
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Rules for Displaying the American Flag | Seasonal Northwest

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