With Independence Day right around the corner, I decided to it was time to find a way to properly display our US flag in front of our home. My plan was to hang a bracket on the trim of our house that our flag could slide snuggly into, dressing up the front porch while showing our pride for this great country of ours. I knew there were certain rules about displaying the flag, but not knowing exactly what those rules were, I decided to do some research. I certainly want to make sure I am giving Old Glory the respect she deserves.
So this is what I found out in regards to displaying the US flag:
Standards for handling and displaying the US flag are set forth by Public Law 77-623, known as the Federal Flag Code, written into law by Congress in 1942. While the federal code does not impose penalties for improper handling or misuse of the flag, the individual states do have laws regarding this, and most of our fellow Americans expect the flag to be treated with respect. The language of the federal code makes clear that the flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.
The U.S. Code is strict about some aspects of handling the flag – sometimes unrealistic in our modern day culture – stating, for example, that the flag should not be “printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.” Our society has interpreted some of the rules rather loosely because we Americans take great pride in displaying our national symbol. Regardless, some important rules decorating rules should be followed.
- Guidelines call for publicly displaying the flag only from sunrise to sunset. However, the flag may be displayed at all times so long as it’s illuminated during darkness.
- Unless your flag is an all-weather flag specially made to withstand the elements; it should not be displayed during weather events that might cause damage, (rain, snow and wind storms).
- The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
- Flying a flag at half-staff is not to be taken lightly or done without official authority. According to the code, only the President of the United States has the authority to order the flag to be lowered. Occasionally governors can order the lowering of both the American and their state flags for appropriate local concerns. The only two Federal holidays that require lowering of the flag are Memorial Day and Peace Officer’s Memorial Day.
- When displaying the American flag on your house, or other building, it should hang from a staff which angles out from the front wall, windowsill, or balcony. Special brackets, made specifically for holding the flagstaff, can be screwed directly to the house’s trim. Ensure that the flag is securely fastened and that it hangs in a way that it will not become soiled or damaged. The flag should not touch the ground, floor, water, or anything else beneath it. The flag can also be hung from a horizontal staff.
- Whether the flag hangs from an angled or horizontal staff, be sure the union, or canton (the rectangle with the stars) is at the peak, unless it is hanging at half-staff. Hanging the flag with the union down signals extreme danger or distress.
- When displayed in a window, the flag should be hung so that the union is on the left when viewed from the outside. When the flag is displayed either vertically or horizontally against a wall, the union should be at the top, to the flags own right (the observer’s left).
- If you display the US flag next to other flags or pennants (cities, states, or organizations) on separate flag poles which are the same height and in a straight line, place it on the right side of a single flag, or at the center of a group of flags, and higher than the other flags. If a US flag is on the same staff as other flags (city, state, or organization), it should always be placed at the top, giving it the position of greater prominence or honor. In peacetime, the flag of another country may be flown at the same height as the US Flag, but it must be on a separate pole. In all cases, the US Flag should be raised first and lowered last.
- When displayed from a car, the flagstaff should be fixed or clamped firmly to the vehicle, preferably on the right side fender. The flag should never be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back. The same holds true for a flag displayed on a float in a parade.
- The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
- The flag should never be used as apparel, home decor, or drapery (sorry, Etsy sellers). It is acceptable for a flag patch to be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. A lapel flag can also be acceptably worn, pinned on the left side, near the heart.
- Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of a speaking platform, and for general decorative displays.
- The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be printed on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs, and especially on paper napkins, boxes or other items designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff from which the flag is flown. The flag should never have any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it.
- Never use the flag as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying or delivering anything.
- The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. The Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, National Sojourners, and other organizations regularly conduct dignified flag-burning ceremonies, often on Flag Day, June 14.
Whew, that’s a lot of rules and those are just the highlights! You can find out more by clicking on this link. I hope you found this information as helpful as I did. And now you can show your pride and let your flag fly in a way that will bring honor to Old Glory, and this great country of ours.
Have a happy and safe Independence Day!
* All photos courtesy of BH&G.
* Sharing at French Country Cottage