The flag of the United States of America is a symbol of pride and patriotism. It’s not only flown at the White House and other state buildings, but many citizens also choose to display them at their homes.
You might be one of them. However, are you aware that flying the United States’ national flag comes with quite a lot of responsibility? There’s actually a Federal Flag Code that outlines specific rules on the displaying and handling of the flag.
The Code views the American flag as a living symbol. To ensure you’re displaying it with the respect and reverence it deserves, review some of the more important flag display guidelines below. Some interesting facts may also give you a new-found appreciation of the American flag.
Interesting Facts About the United States Flag
June 14th, 1777 marked the finalization of the first US flag. It featured 13 stars and 13 stripes which represented the original 13 colonies.
Later in 1958, a high school student from Lancaster, Ohio designed the current American flag. Robert G. Heft, a 17-year-old member of the Boy Scouts, designed a flag with 50 stars and 13 stripes. Ironically, he received a B- for his sewing project.
However, his teacher told him he would consider raising the grade if Washington accepted the design. It apparently stood out among the 1500 other entries. On July 4, 1960, Heft stood with President Dwight D. Eisenhower for the raising of the new flag over the US Capitol.
Did you also know that the US flag is only displayed from sunrise to sunset? This is according to Federal laws and regulations. The only exception is that the flag must be properly illuminated at night if it is on continuous display. This is just one of the more important flag display rules you should know.
Five Important Flag Display Rules
When you decide to display the American flag, there’s an understanding that you will follow certain guidelines to ensure it is respectfully handled and displayed. Here are a few of the more common flag rules to guide you.
1. Hoisting and Lowering of the Flag
Hoisting of the flag should be brisk and lowering it should be ceremoniously done. If flown at half-staff, hoist it to the peak or top of the flagpole initially and then lower it to the half-staff position. The same should occur during the lowering of the flag.
The half-staff measurement is literally one-half of the distance between the top of the flagpole to the bottom. There are specific times and durations when the flag is flown at half-staff.
2. Displaying the Flag
The flag should never hang upside down. When on a flagpole, the Union (blue section) should be to the top and closest to the flagpole. If you’re displaying the flag from a staff that protrudes from the outer wall of your home or office, the Union should be at the peak or end of the staff.
If hung vertically, from a wall, door, or window, the Union should be to an onlooker’s left. If hung horizontally, the Union should also be to the onlooker’s left.
The aim is to have the flag displayed and flown in a dignified manner. The constant wrapping of the flag around your flagpole, especially when it’s extremely windy, is one of the problems you may encounter when trying to achieve a patriotic display of the flag. There are several ways to avoid this, including, using a heavier flag, displaying the flag around a windbreak, or using a flagpole that spins.
3. Care of the Flag
Based on the guidelines in the US Flag Code, you can dry clean, or wash the flag if it gets dirty. This can help to prolong the life of your flag. If you decide to wash it yourself, it is usually best to use a mild detergent and hand wash it.
However, if you’re uncertain and think you may ruin the flag, it’s best to have it dry cleaned. Evidently, many dry cleaning services have special offers leading up to Independence Day. It’s an ideal time to have your flag looking its best for the Fourth of July celebrations.
If your flag is getting worn, you can also make minor repairs. However, if it’s too damaged, there is a proper way to dispose of it.
4. Respecting the Flag
It is disrespectful to have the flag touch the ground, so avoid doing this at all costs.
However, contrary to popular belief you don’t need to destroy the flag if it touches the ground. If it gets dirty as a result, simply wash it and try not to let it happen again.
5. Disposal of the Flag
Damage to any flag is inevitable due to natural wear and tear and exposure to the elements. Although the flag should not be flown in inclement weather. A damaged or tattered flag should also not be flown.
However, its disposal should be dignified, preferably by burning. The Boy and Girl Scouts Councils and the American Legion can perform a special ceremony to retire and burn the flag for you.
Displaying Your Patriotism Well
There is something nostalgic about seeing the American flag flown high, especially while the anthem is playing. It fills most citizens with a sense of pride and represents a tangible way for them to display their patriotism.
It’s important that in doing so, you don’t disrespect the symbol that you are actually trying to honor. Follow these guidelines as well as do your research so that you can display your flag with pride.
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