News Column

Flying the Flag Today? How to Do It Properly

June 14, 2013
Flag Day

Today is Flag Day, a day of national observance that commemorates the adoption by Congress of the Stars and Stripes as the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777.

If you are displaying the colors today or any other time follow these rules for proper flag display and handling.

Displaying the flag

-- Display the U.S. flag from sunrise to sunset on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in the open. When a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

-- When placed on a single staff or lanyard, place the U.S. flag above all other flags.

-- When flags are displayed in a row, the U.S. flag goes to the observer's left. Flags of other nations are flown at the same height. State and local flags traditionally are flown lower.

-- When used during a marching ceremony or parade with other flags, the U.S. flag will be to the observer's left.

-- On special days, the flag may be flown at half-staff. On Memorial Day, it is flown at half-staff until noon and then raised.

-- When flown at half-staff, the flag first should be hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. Half-staff means lowering the flag to one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff. Crepe streamers may be affixed to spearheads or flagstaffs in a parade only by order of the president of the United States.

-- When the flag is displayed over the middle of the street, it should be suspended vertically with the union (blue field of stars) to the north in an east and west street or to the east in a north and south street.

-- When the flag is displayed in a manner other than by being flown from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out. When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union (blue ?field of stars) should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the observer's left. When displayed in a window, it should be displayed in the same way -- with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.

-- When the flag is displayed on a car, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.

-- When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.

Saluting the flag

-- All persons in uniform (military, police, fire, etc.) should render the military salute. Members of the armed forces and veterans who are not in uniform may render the military salute.

-- All others should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.

Retiring a tattered and torn flag

U.S. Flag Code 1: The flag, when it is in such a condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

When stowing or disposing of the flag, do the following:

-- Fold in the traditional triangle for stowage, never wadded up.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars offers these instructions for properly disposing of a worn flag:

-- The flag should be folded in its customary manner.

-- It is important that the fire be fairly large and of sufficient intensity to ensure complete burning of the flag.

-- Place the flag on the fire.

-- The individual(s) can come to attention, salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and have a brief period of silent reflection.

-- After the flag is completely consumed, the fire should be safely extinguished and the ashes buried.

-- Please make sure you are conforming to local/state fire codes or ordinances.

Flag etiquette don'ts:

-- Don't dip the U.S. flag for any person, flag, or vessel.

-- Don't let the flag touch the ground.

-- Don't fly flag upside down unless there is an emergency.

-- Don't carry the flag flat or carry things in it.

-- Don't use the flag as clothing.

-- Don't store the flag where it can get dirty.

-- Don't use it as a cover.

-- Don't fasten it or tie it back. Always allow it to fall free.

-- Don't draw on or otherwise mark the flag.

-- Don't use the flag for decoration. Use bunting with the blue on top, then white, then red.


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Source: (c) 2013 the News & Record (Greensboro, N.C.) Distributed by MCT Information Services

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