As we enter Memorial Day weekend, with the fourth of July holiday soon to follow, many of us will be handling and displaying the American flag in front of our homes and businesses, as a sign of respect, pride and patriotism for our country. However, did you know that if you do not handle the flag properly you may be unintentionally disrespecting our “stars and stripes”? In preparation of our upcoming, patriotic holidays we’d like to share some valuable information we found on USFlag.org about how to care for our flag.
The laws relating to the flag of the United States of America are found in detail in the United States Code. The Flag Code, which formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which we give respect to the flag, also contains specific instructions on how the flag is not to be used. They are:
- The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
- The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speakers desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
- The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard
- The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
- The flag should never have placed on it, or attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind.
- The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
- When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
- The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.
- 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.
Note: Most American Legion Posts regularly conduct a dignified flag burning ceremony, often on Flag Day, June 14th. Many Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops, and Girl Scout Troops retire flags regularly as well. Contact your local American Legion Hall or Scout Troop to inquire about the availability of this service.
If you would like more details and rules about displaying the flag outdoors or indoors, raising and lowering the flag, parading or saluting the flag, or the flag in mourning, you can check out www.USFlag.org. They also have great information about the history of our flag, as well as patriotic writings. We encourage to display our American flag with pride, but please make sure to do so with respect and honor as well. Happy Memorial Day Weekend!