What so proudly we hailed

It’s Flag Day. You might not have even known that. I found it printed in small type on my planner. Flag Day is not an official federal holiday. Do any of you celebrate Flag Day?

Flag Day happens every June 14th in the US. It commemorates the adoption of the Star Spangled Banner as our nation’s official flag. This adoption took place through a resolution passed during the Second Continental Congress in 1777, on June 14th. Very interesting, but what does this have to do with our real lives today? Well, I’ll tell ya. (Some pet peeve venting ahead…brace yourselves!)

I live in Baltimore, where the national anthem that shares the same name as our flag was written. “And the rockets red glare…”? Those rockets were fired here, over Baltimore, during the War of 1812. We take out-of-town guests to visit Fort McHenry, I drive on Francis Scott Key Highway, the beautiful Key Memorial is in my neighborhood:

I love the design of this memorial and fountain. I like originality of using the formal column and pedestal, then breaking the form by allowing Key to wash up on its solemn shore in his boat. Someone clearly put some heartfelt craftsmanship into the design of this memorial.

And that is why this makes me CRAZY:

This is also at the edge of my neighborhood. A giant torn flag waving in the breeze. This flag does not look like it is being respected, yet alone “hailed”. (Did I mention that this is in Baltimore?! Heresy!) I bet you can find torn flags in your area, too. There are laws against this, as well there should be.

I believe if you are going to make the effort to show our flag with pride, then do it right. Too many people have sacrificed for the ideals the flag represents to do otherwise. Full disclosure: I have been known to call business owners and shame them about their US flag display. Do you hear me, Used Car Salesmen of America? I’m comin’ for ya!

So, in honor of Flag Day, I’ve excerpted the US Flag Code, Title 4, Chapter 1 (which is a long and detailed  read, let me tell ya!). My excerpted version below should be all you need to help you display your own Star Spangled Banner with pride and dignity outside your home. Feel free to print a copy of this and share it with others. Our flag is so beautiful, long may she wave.

Time and occasions for display

  • It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
  • The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
  • The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.
  • The flag should be displayed on all days, especially on:

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
Father’s Day, third Sunday in June
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
and such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States
the birthdays of States (date of admission)
and on State holidays.

Position and manner of display

  • The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.
  • When flags of States, cities, or localities, or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the United States, the latter should always be at the peak. When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the United States or to the United States flag’s right.
  • When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.
  • When the flag of the United States is displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle from the window sill, balcony, or front of a building, the union of the flag should be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half-staff. When the flag is suspended over a sidewalk from a rope extending from a house to a pole at the edge of the sidewalk, the flag should be hoisted out, union first, from the building.
  • When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left. When displayed in a window, the flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.
  • The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff.

Respect for flag

No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing.

  • The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
  • The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
  • The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
  • The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. 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 the platform, and for decoration in general.
  • The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
  • The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
  • The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.
  • The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
  • The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.
  • No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.
  • 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.

Conduct during hoisting, lowering or passing of flag

During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present in uniform should render the military salute. Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute. All other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Citizens of other countries present should stand at attention. All such conduct toward the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.

How to fold and store a flag properly

For a great visual tutorial on how to fold the US flag properly, please visit this site:  http://www.usflag.org/foldflag.html

If you are interested in more info on flag decorum and care, visit:  http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/faq.htm for FAQ and other details.

All the images in today’s post (excepting the first two) are courtesy of art.com, a favorite source of mine for all kinds of beautiful images.

Do you have an opinion about all of these flag regulations? All comments are welcome, because we are a free country! Happy Flag Day, everyone!

Posted on June 14, 2011, in DIY, Lifestyle. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Tina Williams

    It seems that we can buy all kinds of things that shouldn’t be made into flags. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been to a picnic on Memorial Day or 4th of July and I use napkins that have the flag imprinted on them. Don’t get me started on the flag bikini. I also think that an adult should go out with the students at a school to put up and take down the flag. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been dropping off or picking up the kids and the 5th graders that are out there putting up or taking down the flag let it touch the ground and the irreverence of the whole thing. They don’t even fold it when they take it down the just crumple it up in their arms and go inside with it. It’s frustrating to me. I think I’ll have to say something to the principal now. Reading this article really got me thinking. I’ve taken my boys to retreat at our Army post and it’s wonderful sight. The uniformity and pomp and circumstance of that ceremony is beautiful. Thanks again for this article!

  2. This post would warm my Father’s heart. When it was my turn to have flag duty as a Girl Scout, Dad presented me with a copy of the US Flag Code! Since my family and many locations in my hometown also fly the Swiss flag, we have extra rules to follow, too. It can get to be a mess, say, at the public library trying to properly fly the American, Indiana, Swiss and Canton of Bern flags properly. But they make a respectful effort to get it right, which is more than I can say for the offenders in this cringe-worthy page: http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/wallofshame.htm Hall of Shame, indeed! I think the Old Glory speedo may be the worst.

  3. I frankly thought that all of the rules were excessive, but as I read on, I found that I was overwhelmed with emotion. The rules and protocol reflect not only respect for the flag itself, but the respect and love for the living country it represents and those that have died to defend it. Thank you for reminding me how important this really is. I’m going to have a word with one or two used car salesmen myself.

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