Today, the United States flag has 13 equal horizontal stripes of red and white adorned with a blue rectangle with 50 five-pointed stars in the top left corner. The Star-Spangled Banner has changed many times over the years, though it has always followed a similar style. When hosting the flag, everyone should follow the recognized American flag etiquette.
The Grand Union Flag is considered the first national flag. It featured the flag of the Kingdom of Great Britain in the canton.
This flag was first adopted in December 1775 and was strikingly similar to the flag of the British East India Company. Then, in 1777, we saw the 13-star flag, which has increased over time to 50–the most recent addition being the star representing Hawaii in 1960.
The red on the US flag represents valor and hardiness, while the white represents innocence and purity. Within the canton, the blue symbolizes justice, perseverance, and vigilance. Naturally, the 50 stars represent each US state.
If you are interested in hosting the flag, you need to understand American flag etiquette. This blog post will highlight the “dos: and “don’ts” of American flag etiquette at home. So read on!
Dos of American Flag Etiquette
The rules that guide the handling and displaying of the US flag are written down in law known as US Flag Code.
When it comes to the US flag, the first “do” is to only display it on buildings and flagstaff from sunrise to sunset. If you wish to display it 24-hours a day for patriotic effect, you should illuminate it throughout the hours of darkness.
If placed on a single staff, then the US flag should be flown above all other flags. If flown in a row alongside other flags, place it to the observer’s left. If flown alongside flags of other nations, all flags should be flown at the same height; generally, state and other flags will be flown lower.
The flag can be flown at half-mast on special days; remember, on Memorial Day, it should be flown at half-mast in the morning and raised to full height at noon.
When you display the flag in a window, position it so that observers in the street should see the blue field on the left-hand side of the flag. If you wish to display the flag on a vehicle, fix it to the chassis or the right fender.
In terms of hosting the flag, perform this act briskly. The flag should be lowered ceremoniously. Do not display the flag when the weather is unpleasant–unless the flag is designed for all seasons.
Dos When Saluting the US Flag
There are differing rules here, depending on whether the individuals are in uniform or not. Those in uniform, such as members of the military and police forces, should render the military salute. This is also the case for veterans and other armed forces members who are not in uniform.
If you are not in uniform, you should face the flag and stand at attention. Your right hand should be over your heart, and headdresses should be removed with the right hand and held at the left shoulder.
Dos When Stowing and Disposing of the US Flag
As noted, you should lower the flag ceremoniously; fold it in the traditional triangle for stowage (never simply have it wadded up).
If you are disposing of the US flag for whatever reason, it should be burnt in a large fire and of sufficient intensity. Salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance, and hold a moment of silent reflection.
Don’ts of American Flag Etiquette
There are several things that you should never do if you want to show full respect to the flag and everything it represents. First, do not dip the flag for any person or thing, and never allow it to touch the ground.
Unless there is an emergency, the flag should not be flown upside down. Do not use the flag as clothing or use it as a cover. Also, do not carry it flat or use it to carry other items.
The flag should not be stored anywhere it could get dirty. It should not be drawn on or marked in any way.
When flown, you must not fasten it to anything. Instead, allow it to fall free.
Finally, do not use the flag for decoration. Instead, use blue, white, and red bunting.
These “dos” and “don’ts” are sufficient for properly flying and stowing the US flag on personal property, such as in your garden. However, the rules for official use, while touched upon here, are more complex.
Consider a telescoping flagpole if you are looking for a high-quality flagpole to raise the US flag proudly.
American Flag Code Etiquette: Get It Right
As you can see, there are many “dos” and “don’ts” when it comes to hosting the US flag. If you are going to express your pride in the flag and the United States as a whole, be sure to follow these rules. The US flag emphasizes the nation’s unity and should always be treated appropriately and with respect.
Whether you are interested in flying the US flag on your property year-round or just for special occasions such as the 4th of July, these tips will ensure you do it right.
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