Rules of the American Flag

Displaying an American flag is a great way to show your love for our country. However, your act of patriotism can quickly become (unintentionally) disrespectful if you are not aware of an important set of rules. The American Flag Code, established by Congress in 1942, provides guidelines for treating this national symbol with dignity.

You can fly the American flag everyday, but the flag code mostly recommend posting it on Independence Day, as well as other major holidays such as Flag Day, Labor Day, and Veterans Day.

Take note: Memorial Day has its own flag label. The American flag should be flown at half mast from sunrise to noon, then hoisted at full mast for the rest of the vacation.

Update the rest of your flag label before Memorial Day weekend by learning to fly the Stars and Stripes the right way.

There is a right way and a wrong way to hang the flag vertically.

Do not hang your flag backwards, upside down or in any other inappropriate way. If you hang your flag vertically (like a window or against a wall), the Union part with the stars should go to the left of the observer. Never dive the flag at anyone or anything.

American flag on wooden house by wet road

Marco Rigon / EyeEmGetty Images

Avoid letting the flag touch the ground.

Prevent your flag from touching the ground, soil or water. It is not necessary to throw your flag if it accidentally hits the sidewalk, but you must make sure that it is in good condition before displaying it again.

Know the difference between a half-pole and a half-mast.

There is a difference between half-span and half-mast, even if they are commonly used interchangeably. “Semi-mast” technically refers to a flag fluttering on the mast of a ship, while “semi-stick” describes flags fluttering ashore.

Fly your flag on the half-stick at the right time.

The flag is raised to half the staff when the nation is in mourning, as for the death of a government official or as a souvenir, as well as from sunrise to noon on Remembrance Day. When you fly the flag at mid-range, first hoist it at the top for a moment, then lower it to the half-range position.

The half-span is defined as half the distance between the top and the bottom of the mast. The flag should again be raised to the top before being lowered for the day.

American flag at half mast in the trees

life buoyGetty Images

Fly a flag at night only if it is lit.

Custom states that you should only display flags from sunrise to sunset, but you can keep stars and stripes flying 24 hours a day if properly lit during dark hours.

Do not fly the flag when it is raining.

If the forecast is for bad weather, you are not expected to display the flag – except if it’s an all-season flag. However, most flags these days are made of all-weather non-absorbent materials like nylon, says the American Legion.

Always fly the American flag above other flags.

This includes the flags of states and cities. If they must be on the same level (that is, you hang them vertically on a house or porch), place the American flag on the left. Always raise the American flag first and lower it last.

Only raise a flag in good condition.

No matter how busy you are with Old Glory, age sometimes carries a flag. The new synthetic flags can be machine washed in cold water with a mild detergent and hung to dry.

Older and more fragile flags should be hand washed with Woolite or a similar product. Small tears can be repaired by hand, as long as the fittings are not openly visible when the flag is displayed. Too worn, torn or discolored flags should be properly disposed of.

Throw an old flag with respect.

The federal flag code states that unusable flags should be burned in a respectful and ceremonial manner, but do so discreetly so that people do not misinterpret your intentions. If it is illegal or you feel uncomfortable to burn synthetic materials in your state, contact your local American Legion post to find out if they have flag-removing ceremonies, which generally take place on flag day, June 14. Local Scout Troops are another resource for having your retired flag dignified and respectful.

Fold your flag before putting it away.

The American flag is traditionally folded in a specific arrangement, but we guarantee that it is easier than folding a fitted sheet. When you need to store your flag, take someone else to help you. Start by keeping it parallel to the ground with another person and fold the lower strips lengthwise on the Union, keeping the edges of the flag sharp and straight. Fold it lengthwise, keeping the Union Bleu outside.

how to fold an american flag

Betsy Farrell

Now make a triangular fold bringing the striped corner from the folded edge to the open edge of the flag, then turn the outside point parallel to the open edge to make a second triangle. Continue making triangular folds until the entire flag is folded into a triangle of blue and white stars.

Jump up clothes and objects with flags on them.

Although this section of the Flag Code is rarely observed, the guidelines do not recommend the use of the flag on clothing, costumes, sports uniforms, bedding, cushions, handkerchiefs, other decorations and items for temporary use like napkins and paper boxes. It allows you to wear flag pins on the left back and flags on the uniforms of soldiers and first responders.

However, the Supreme Court ruled in 1984 in the case Texas c. Johnson that the government cannot enforce flag protection laws, so you will not be arrested for wearing a T-shirt with the American flag. Do what you think is most respectful and appropriate.

Also avoid these common flag errors.

In addition to wearing flag-covered clothing, there are a few other flag code violations that you can easily avoid. Most of them relate to the placement of the flag – a flag should never touch anything underneath while it is flying, it should never be used as a covering for a ceiling, and you should never place anything on the flag (as a “brand, badge, letter, word”). , figure, drawing, image or drawing of any kind “).

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