Monday, July 2, 2012

Stars and Stripes: What Do You Know About Flag Etiquette?

This post was originally published on July 2, 2012

Did you know this about our national flag???

  • The flag should be displayed daily at public places such as schools during school days, public libraries, and government offices. It should also be present at polling places on election days.

  • No flag shall fly higher than the national flag, and no flag shall fly to the right of the national flag as you look at it. Have you noticed the state and national flags at school? This is why the state flag is always lower and to the left.

  • The only place our national flag is at the same level as other national flags is at the United Nations.

  • When you attend a parade or other event where the flag is being carried past you, etiquette indicates you place your right hand over your heart until it passes. If you are in the military, you will salute. If you are out of uniform and carry a hat, you place the hat over your left shoulder so that your right hand is over your heart.

  • When the flag is raised for the day, it should be done briskly. When lowered at the end of the day, it should be lowered 'with ceremony.'

What about the flag at half-staff? First, keep in mind the terms "half-staff" and "half-mast" are actually the same, however, to be correct, a 'mast' is only present on a ship, so "half-staff" is more correct for any flag flying on land (on a pole, which can be called a staff).

  • The President or Governor of a state can proclaim a flag should be flown at half-staff in honor of a person who has served his or her country and has passed away (it does not have to be a person who served in the military). No one else is allowed to make that decision.

  • The etiquette for having the flag at half-staff is to raise it initially all the way to the top of the staff, then lower it slowly to half staff and leave it that way for the day. At the end of the day when taking the flag down, the flag is to be raised back up to the top of the staff and then lowered completely to be taken down.

  • The flag is to be flown at half-staff on Memorial Day until noon only.

  • The flag should not be left on display after dark unless properly lit so you can still see it.

  • To properly fold a flag, it is first held by a person at either short end. The flag is folded into thirds, one side in and then the other side over it. One person then grasps the flag at the corner and folds it into triangles. After the last triangle, the ends are tucked neatly inside.

  • When placed on a casket, the flag's stars should lie on the person's left shoulder.

  • Nothing should ever be pinned to the flag, and it should not be used as cloth to make anything. The flag should never touch the ground or any other surface below it. An old flag that is ragged should be 'retired' by giving it to a local VFW for them to dispose of.

Flag rules established by the 94th Congress, 1975-1977 (during our nation's Bicentennial).  For even more flag etiquette, visit: heritage-flag.com .

Happy 4th of July! Fly the Flag..........and be safe!!


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