How to Fly your American Flag


“Raise the Flag briskly, lower it ceremoniously.”

Memorial day weekend marks the unofficial start of the summer season, and like many Americans across the country, I will begin flying Old Glory from the front of my home. Proudly, and for all to see.American Flag displayed and flown in front of home

But did you know that on Memorial day the Flag should be flown half-staff until noon, at which time it should be raised to the top of the staff?

I write this article as a civilian and for others who plan to hoist a flag. These tips from the Federal Flag Code serve as a guide for civilian groups, individuals, and families to show proper respect to our Flag.

Flag etiquette, while voluntary, is greatly encouraged and a little knowledge goes a long way.

The pledge should be said while standing at attention and facing the flag with right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.

The same behavior applies during the raising or lowering of the flag, or when it passes on parade.

American Flag displayed and flown in front of home

Etiquette to consider:

  • The flag should be raised at sunrise and removed at sunset. You can display your flag round the clock if illuminated during dusk and darkness.

  • Never allow the flag to touch the ground, floor, or anything beneath it. You should never lay it down or drape it on anything unless ceremoniously – Think of a military funeral, where the flag is draped over the casket in a very deliberate manner with the stars covering the head and shoulders.

  • Do not fly the flag during inclement weather, unless it’s an all-weather flag. It is necessary as a flag bearer to reduce undue wear and allow it to age naturally and gracefully.

  • Tattered, torn, and tired flags should be destroyed properly and respectfully - - preferably by burning – please refer to U.S. Code, Title 36, Section 176k, Respect for Flag.

  • The Flag should always be allowed to fall free and never carried flat.

  • Never fly the Flag upside down except to signal distress.

  • Pay attention to the position of the Union (the blue field), when on display the Union should be at the peak of the staff. Exceptions can be made for those who hoist a flag on a pole and are flying the flag at half-staff.

  • Occasionally, the flag is flown at half-staff by order of the President in a mark of respect, customarily upon the death of prominent members of the Government. Although, as we know, orders have been announced due to other occasions as well. When flown at half-staff, the flag should be raised to the peak for a momentary pause and then lowered to the half-staff position. Prior to the Flag being lowered for the day, it should once again be momentarily hoisted to the peak.American Flag flown at half-staff

  • While the 50 star flag is our official U.S. Flag, historic flags may be displayed as long as they are in good condition.  All Historic Flags, and there are many, should be respected and subject to the same rituals and same manner as the official Flag.

  • The Flag should never be used as clothing, or any form of drapery. Exceptions are made when the flag is held by means of honor and respect in ceremony or funeral. For instance, flags are often presented to the spouse of a fallen soldier and may be handled in an emotional state, coveted in honor for a loved one who served under its colors.

  • Flags should be held upright at all times and never dipped to any monument, person, or otherwise. State and organizational flags may be dipped during ceremonies as a mark of honor and respect.

  • Flags may be displayed against a wall, building, or the inside of your home. Please pay attention to the Union and make sure it appears in the uppermost position and to the left of the observer.

American Flag displayed in barn

 There are many other important considerations when displaying a flag, particularly for local cities, governments and buildings, public parks, and schools. We encourage you to read the U.S.  Flag Code if your agency displays a flag outside, inside, in a parade, or during a ceremony.American Flag displayed in front of government building.

 

I hope this article finds you well and instills perhaps a little more respect that you otherwise wouldn’t have known. As you enjoy this year’s Memorial Day Parade you should know what to do the moment you see the flying flag - - Hint: I mention it, above and under The Pledge of Allegiance.

 

You are encouraged to display your Flag every day from sunrise to sunset, but particularly on the following days: according to http://www.usflag.org

The President of the United States may proclaim other days in addition to this list,

State and Local Holidays

Alabama (22nd state) December 14, 1819 (5th U.S. Flag Design/23-Stars)
Alaska (49th state) January 3, 1959 (26th U.S. Flag Design/49-Stars)
Arizona (48th state) February 14, 1912 (25th U.S. Flag Design/48-Stars)
Arkansas (25th state) June 15,1836 (7th U.S. Flag Design/25-Stars)
California (31st state) September 9, 1850 (13th U.S. Flag Design/31-Stars)
Colorado (38th state) August 1, 1876 (20th U.S. Flag Design/38-Stars)
Connecticut (5th of Original 13) January 9, 1788**(1st U.S. Flag Design/13-Stars)
Delaware (1st of Original 13) December 7,1787**(1st U.S. Flag Design/13-Stars)
Florida (27th state) March 3, 1845 (9th U.S. Flag Design/27-Stars)
Georgia (4th of Original 13) January 2, 1788**(1st U.S. Flag Design/13-Stars)
Hawaii (50th state) August 21, 1959 (27th U.S. Flag Design/50-Stars)
Idaho (43rd state) July 3, 1890 (21st U.S. Flag Design/43-Stars)
Illinois (21st state) December 3, 1818 (4th U.S. Flag Design/21-Stars)
Indiana (19th state) December 11,1816 (3rd U.S. Flag Design/20-Stars)
Iowa (29th state) December26, 1846 (11th U.S. Flag Design/29-Stars)
Kansas (34th state) January 23, 1861 (16th U.S. Flag Design/34-Stars)
Kentucky (15th state) June 1,1792(2nd U.S. Flag Design/15-Stars)
Louisiana (18th state) April 30,1812 (3rd U.S. Flag Design/20-Stars)
Maine (23rd state) March 15, 1820 (5th U.S. Flag Design/23-Stars)
Maryland (7th of Original 13) April 28, 1788**(1st U.S. Flag Design/13-Stars)
Massachusetts (6th of Original 13) February 6,1788**(1st U.S. Flag Design/13-Stars)
Michigan (26th state) January 26, 1837 (8th U.S. Flag Design/26-Stars)
Minnesota (32nd state) May 11, 1858 (14th U.S. Flag Design/32-Stars)
Mississippi (20th state) December10,1817 (3rd U.S. Flag Design/20-Stars)
Missouri (24th state) August 10, 1821 (6th U.S. Flag Design/24-Stars)
Montana (41st state) November 3, 1889 (21st U.S. Flag Design/43-Stars)
Nebraska (37th state) March 1, 1867 (19th U.S. Flag Design/37-Stars)
Nevada (36th state) October 31, 1864 (18th U.S. Flag Design/36-Stars)
New Hampshire (9th of Original 13) June 21,1788**(1st U.S. Flag Design/13-Stars)
New Jersey (3rd of Original 13) December 18, 1787**(1st U.S. Flag Design/13-Stars)
New Mexico (47th state) January 6th, 1912 (25th U.S. Flag Design/48-Stars)
New York (11th of Original 13) July 25, 1788**(1st U.S. Flag Design/13-Stars)
North Carolina (12th of Original 13) November21, 1789**(1st U.S. Flag Design/13-Stars)
North Dakota (39th state) November 2, 1889 (21st U.S. Flag Design/43-Stars)
Ohio (17th state) March 1, 1803 (3rd U.S. Flag Design/20-Stars)
Oklahoma (46th state) November 16, 1907 (24th U.S. Flag Design/46-Stars)
Oregon (33rd state) February 14, 1859 (15th U.S. Flag Design/33-Stars)
Pennsylvania (2nd of Original 13) December 12, 1787**(1st U.S. Flag Design/13-Stars)
Rhode Island (13th of Original 13) May, 29,1790** (1st U.S. Flag Design/13-Stars)
South Carolina (8th of Original 13) May 23,1788**(1st U.S. Flag Design/13-Stars)
South Dakota (40th state) November 2, 1889 (21st U.S. Flag Design/43-Stars)
Tennessee (16th state) June 1, 1796 (3rd U.S. Flag Design/20-Stars)
Texas (28th state) December29, 1845 (10th U.S. Flag Design/28-Stars)
Utah (45th state) January 4, 1896 (23rd U.S. Flag Design/45-Stars)
Vermont (14th state) March 4, 1791 (2nd U.S. Flag Design/15-Stars)
Virginia (10th of Original 13) June 25, 1788**(1st U.S. Flag Design/13-Stars)
Washington (42nd state) November 11, 1889 (21st U.S. Flag Design/43-Stars)
West Virginia (35th state) June 20, 1863 (17th U.S. Flag Design/35-Stars)
Wisconsin (30th state) May 29, 1848 (12th U.S. Flag Design/30-Stars)
Wyoming (44th state) July 10, 1890 (22nd U.S. Flag Design/44-Stars)

** Denotes the date the first 13 colonies ratified the Constitution of the United States


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