Focus on flags; Code outlines etiquette rules

Posted: Sunday, July 04, 2004

Today is one of the 17 days each year when the American flag should be flown, according to the U.S. Flag Code.

It also should be displayed on New Year's Day, Inauguration Day, Martin Luther King Jr.'s Day, Lincoln's birthday, Washington's birthday, Easter Sunday, Mother's Day, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Constitution Day (Sept. 17), Columbus Day, Navy Day (Oct. 27), Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and "such other days as may be proclaimed by the president of the United States.

The Flag Code also spells out proper etiquette for displaying the flag. It should be flown from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flag staffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be flown around the clock as long as it is properly illuminated during hours of darkness.

The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously and should not be displayed during inclement weather unless an all-weather flag is used.

The flag should be displayed daily on or near the main administration building of every public institution, in or near every polling place on election days and in or near every schoolhouse during school days.

When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle from a window sill, balcony or front of a building, the blue union of the flag should be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half-staff.

When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the blue union always should be uppermost and to the observer's left. If the flag is being displayed in a window, the blue union should be to the left of the observer in the street.

The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides or back of a vehicle and when displayed on a car, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.

If the flag is being used on a speaker's platform, if displayed flat, it should be above and behind the speaker. If on a pole, the American flag should be in a position of superior prominence and should be to the speaker's right as he or she faces the audience. Any other flag should be placed on the speaker's left.

In a section on respect for the American flag, the code states, "The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing." As such, the flag should never touch anything beneath it such as the ground, the floor, water or merchandise, and it should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.

When the flag becomes worn or tattered from use and is no longer in a condition suitable for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

As the code states, the flag is a living symbol of this country and should be flown with respect and pride today.

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