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How to Properly Display Your American Flag
"The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing."--U.S. Code: Title 4, Chapter 1 § 8. Respect for Flag
Patriotism is showing love for your country. The word invokes feelings of loyalty and faithfulness. Devotion and being true-blue are components of patriotism. A patriot loves his country. Patriots are often called flag wavers and good citizens. Some may say that patriotism is dead in America, but I disagree.
The American flag is the living representation of our country and as such demands a great deal of respect. Showing respect to our flag is the same as showing respect to our country. That is why displaying your flag correctly is so important. However, many people do not know the rules associated with displaying their flags.
The United States Code in Title 4, Chapter 1 gives guidance on how to properly display your American flag. These rules and regulations are centered around respect for the United States of America and the flag that represents it. Properly displaying your flag is an important part of being a good citizen.
- 5-Pointed Star in One Snip
Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag. Betsy Ross House. Betsy Ross, George Washington and the flag. Betsy Ross's life. Cut a 5-pointed star in one snip. Flag facts.
A Little History
The first flag was sewn by Betsy Ross in May of 1776, just a few months before the Declaration of Independence was signed. The first official flag of the United States was made of thirteen stripes alternating red and white and a ring of thirteen white stars set on a field of blue. The design was shown to Betsy by George Washington.
Betsy Ross was approached by a committee sent by the Continental Army that consisted of George Washington, George Ross and Robert Morris. Betsy Ross knew George Washington well. They worshiped at the same church and were friends. George Ross was the uncle of her recently deceased husband. She was an upholsterer by trade and known for her skill in sewing.
This flag was officially recognized as the national flag on June 14, 1777 by an act of Congress. The design would change in 1795, with the addition of 2 more stars and stripes to commemorate Kentucky and Vermont joining the Union. By 1818 five more states had joined and Congress changed the flag again.
The new flag was to have 13 alternating red and white stripes and 20 stars. The star's arrangement became horizontal instead of circular. It was also decided that a new star would be added with each new state. New stars would appear on the 4th of July following the new state's admission into the Union.
Today we have 13 stripes alternating red and white and 50 white stars on a field of blue. The 13 stripes are to recognize the original 13 states. The colors also have meaning. Red represents hardiness and valor. Blue represent vigilance, perseverance and justice. White stands for purity and innocence.
A High School Student designed our Current Flag
When to Display Your Flag
The American flag is typically displayed from sunup to sunset. You may display your flag after sunset if you have proper lighting. Do not display it during inclement weather unless you have an all weather flag. Be sure to hoist your flag rapidly and with enthusiasm and to lower it ceremoniously and respectfully.
The flag may be displayed every day, but you should hoist the red, white and blue for these holidays at the minimum:
- 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;
The Correct Way to Display Your Flag
One of the first rules of displaying the American flag is it must always be above other flags on the same flagpole. No other flag may be placed above the American flag in the United States of America. When you have two flagpoles, the American flag is always hung on the right side. In a line of flags the American flag should be center and highest.
The flags of different nations may be flown at an adjacent height to the American flag when on different flagpoles. International protocols forbid the hanging of one nation's flag above another nation's during times of peace. But the American flag must be flown to the right. In every case when there are two flagpoles, the American flag is flown on the right.
The American flag is always hoisted first and taken down last. All other flags must be put up after the American flag is flying and taken down before the American flag is taken down.
If placed in a display against the wall, crossed with another flag, the American flag must be on the right with it's staff crossed in front of the other's. This will place the American flag on the left hand side of someone standing and looking at the display.
When the American flag is placed flat on a wall behind a speaker it is above and behind the speaker. If it is placed behind the right shoulder of a speaker if displayed on a pole. Any other flag should be placed at the speaker's left.
An American flag hung from a pole horizontally or at an angle from a house or building should always have the blue field with stars (otherwise known as the union) at the peak of the staff. The union should always be at the topmost point of the flag.
The union should always be on the flag's right (observer's left) when an American flag is displayed vertically or horizontally on a wall. The union should additionally be in the uppermost position. This same placement should be observed when displaying the flag in a window.
This next one can be a little tricky for some. When you hang a flag over a road suspend the American flag vertically. Keep the union uppermost and facing the north on an east-west street, or east on a north-south street. (Hint: Find someone who knows east from west and north from south before attempting this placement!)
When flying an American flag at half-mast (halfway between the top and bottom of the pole) always hoist the flag to the top of the pole before lowering it to half-mast. Raise the flag again to the top before lowering it at the end of the day.
How Much Did You Learn?
© 2009 Kari Poulsen