Know Your Proper Flag Etiquette

Know Your Proper Flag Etiquette

( – When you think of the United States of America, one prominent symbol of all she stands for is the flag. While the origins of the first flag are, for the most part, unknown, there’s no doubting its significance. For this reason, it’s only natural that Old Glory comes with its own set of guidelines. The US Flag Code includes the proper methods of displaying, saluting, and stowing/disposing of the Star-Spangled Banner.

Displaying Old Glory

The display guidelines apply to both government buildings and civilian homes. Most often, it’s flown on a staff or a flagpole. In general, it’s meant to be flown from sunrise to sunset, but it can be displayed 24 hours with proper illumination. When flown on a single staff with other flags, Old Glory should be at the very top in an upright manner, never upside down. If there are multiple ensigns, and if it’s used during a parade, the US flag should be to the viewer’s left.

When flying the Star-Spangled Banner at half-staff, such as on special days like Memorial Day, it’s custom to raise it to the highest peak on the staff before lowering it to its resting position. Then, it’s raised to the peak again, before taking it down for the day if it’s not on display 24/7.

Other guidelines include displaying it on a wall or in a window, which requires the field of stars to sit to the viewer’s upper left. Some people like to show their patriotism by affixing one to their vehicles. The proper way to do so is to clamp it to the right fender or to fix it to the chassis.

Finally, when used to decorate a casket, such as in the funeral of a military member, it should be draped in such a manner that the field of stars is over the left shoulder. In no instance of the above displays should the flag ever touch or be lowered into the ground.

Saluting the Flag

There are two ways to salute Old Glory. The first is the military salute, which applies to all persons in uniform. This includes police officers, firefighters, and of course, the armed forces whether they are in uniform or not.

The second salute is for civilians. The proper way to pay respect is to remove all headdresses and put the right hand over the heart. Should you remove a hat, holding it at your left shoulder with your right hand placed over the heart is customary.

Stowing and Disposing of the Stars and Stripes

Many people like to store the flag rather than display it, and it’s important to fold it properly into a triangle following the customs. To keep it in prime condition, consider purchasing a flag case, which is triangular in shape to honor the age-old tradition.

The proper way to dispose of Old Glory is to burn it. The fire should be large and hot enough to completely disintegrate the flag. Once the fire is set, the person or persons burning the flag should lay it over the top of the fire. Then, salute it, say the Pledge of Allegiance, and enjoy a moment of silence. You should never leave the mess after extinguishing the flames. Instead, ensure it’s properly put out and then bury the ashes to complete the ritual.

The flag is a very important part of our country and deserves to be treated with respect. Whether you purchase one or inherit it, knowing how to properly display, salute, stow, and dispose of it is a true testament to your patriotism.

Copyright 2023,