As one travels around this great nation of ours, it’s not unusual to see an American Flag flying from a flagpole or displayed from a side mount of a home. Such sights are refreshing and reassuring reminders that people still take pride in showing the flag and giving physical demonstration of their patriotism. Bravo to every one of them for doing so. However, something else is also equally evident in many of these displays.
All too often, the flag on display is in serious need of attention. Public display of the Flag of the United States of America does have some regulations governing it. Too often, good intentions trump the simple rules for proper flag display. Without meaning to, many citizens actually do a disservice to their flag by not displaying it properly. And the amazing thing is that this wrong can be so easily avoided and/or corrected.
A soiled flag can be laundered and returned to serviceable condition. Worn, frayed, discolored, faded, unraveling ends and threads are all signs of a flag that is no longer serviceable. Local VFW posts offer free retirement services and will provide a replacement flag as well.
From U.S. Code, Title 36, Chapter 10: §176. 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. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.
(a) 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.
(b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
(c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
(d) 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.
(e) 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.
(f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
(g) 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.
(h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
(i) 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.
(j) 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. (k) 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.
Basically, if you don’t attempt to wear the flag, place anything on it, use it to carry or deliver another item, use it when colors are faded, or threads are unraveling, use it for commercial purposes or place another flag above it, you are on safe territory.
One other point of concern is displaying the flag after dark. From the VFW website, the following applies: The federal flag code says the universal custom is to display the U.S. flag from sunrise to sunset on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in the open, but when a patriotic effect is desired the flag may be displayed 24-hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
Also, the U.S. flag should not be displayed when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed. Included here are some images of respectful handling and display of the flag and some flag code violations. Don’t let yourself become a statistic in this posse. Remember, June 14 is Flag Day. Show your colours with pride, proudly.