If you’ve watched the news, listened to broadcasts, or perused news articles lately, you’ve likely noticed the attention that the American flag is receiving. From stories about misuse of the flag to comments made by the president on the subject of flag desecration, the media coverage, if anything, has helped bring to light the importance of understanding how to properly respect our nation’s flag and the freedom it represents.
The American Legion played an important role in establishing flag etiquette standards before the passing of the first national codes in 1923 and continues to uphold these historical standards and provide flag education today. Much of flag etiquette can be found in the Flag Code, the official national rules regarding the American flag.
Although you may never have intentionally disrespected the flag, here are some of the ways you can ensure you don’t in the future:
Hoisting and Lowering of the Flag:
- The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
- The flag of the United States of America is saluted, or acknowledged by placing your hand over your heart, as it is hoisted and lowered.
- When lowered, the flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water or merchandise.
Manner of Displaying the Flag:
- The Flag Code states it is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
- The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.
Storing and Disposing of the Flag:
- The Flag Code does not require any specific method of storage; however, over time it has become tradition to fold the flag into a triangular shape like that of a three-corner hat, with only the blue union showing.
- When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner. For more information visit here.
- Flag etiquette was established to honor and pay tribute to our nation and its history. Certain uses of the American flag are considered disrespectful. The flag should never be:
- Used as a drapery or for any other decoration.
- Carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
- Used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
- Used as apparel, bedding or drapery. However, wearing clothing that looks like the flag but is not an actual flag is okay.