Top 5 Frequently Asked Questions About American Flag Etiquette
Have you ever felt happy and sad at the same time? Or experienced an emotion as bittersweet? Or had feelings so mixed that you were compelled to vacillate between two courses of action—or reaction?
As a mother of a son serving in the US Army, the two emotions I feel at the same time are pride and fear. The sense of pride when my son declared he wanted to serve his country to follow a decision he made on 911 at the age of ten. Did he really understand the sacrifice? Did he understand the reality? At 18 years old can you grasp your life’s purpose? It was the fear that he was not mature enough to make such a decision of that proportion.
It was pride that filled his grandfather’s heart when he arrived at the airport returning home from basic training at Fort Benning, Georgia. A WWII veteran who knew the sacrifice of serving his country.
Displaying the American Flag
Honor, service, pride...These are the thoughts and emotions that surface when I see the American flag on display. However, often people are unsure of how to properly display the flag. Following the following simple etiquette rules will ensure that you are showing proper respect to those who serve our country, and those of us who love them.
1. What are the basics of American flag etiquette?
● The flag should always be displayed upright. The only exception is when signaling distress or extreme danger, in which case it should be inverted.
● The flag should be hung in a position such that it has no contact with the floor, ground or any other object.
● When carried, the flag should always aloft and free.
● The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.
● The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
● The flag should never have any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature placed upon it.
● Lapel flag pins are considered replicas and should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.
2. Are the specific days when the American flag should be flown?
Except in cases of inclement weather, the American flag should be flown daily, with specific emphasis on the following dates:
New Year's Day, January 1 Inauguration Day, January 20 Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday, third Monday in January Lincoln's Birthday, February 12 Washington's Birthday, third Monday in February Easter Sunday (variable) Mother's Day, second Sunday in May Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May Memorial Day (half-staff until noon*), the last Monday in May Flag Day, June 14 Independence Day, July 4 Labor Day, first Monday in September Constitution Day, September 17 Columbus Day, second Monday in October Navy Day, October 27 Veterans Day, November 11 Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November Christmas Day, December 25
In addition: By special proclamation of the President of the United States The birthdays of States (date of admission) State holidays
3. Should the American flag be flown at night?
Typically, the flag should only be flown between sunup and sundown. However, it may be flown at night if properly illuminated. This may be done to show a dramatic patriotic effect.
4. Is it appropriate to wear the flag?
No. And yes... This is a common area of confusion. Fortunately, the US Flag code is clear on the protocol. Wearing an actual American flag in any capacity is a breach of etiquette. However, wearing clothing whose design incorporates the flag or flag design is acceptable and considered to be an expression of patriotism.
5. When and how should I dispose of my American flag?
The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary. Once it has reached a condition where it can no longer be flown, the proper method of disposal is burning. Most American Legion posts will accept flags for dignified disposal by burning.
Following these rules of protocol is a simple but meaningful was to demonstrate your patriotism and gratitude for those who have served our country.