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Remember Etiquette on Flag Day

June 8, 2011

By Tracy Steffenson

In the USA we celebrate Flag Day on June 14th, and what better way to remember the adoption of the flag of the United States in 1777 than to talk about proper flag etiquette. There are certain guidelines for the use, display, and disposal of the American flag. Federal law stipulates many aspects of flag etiquette and that section of law is generally referred to as the Flag Code. Here are some of the general guidelines from the Flag Code.

• The flag should be displayed on all Government buildings.

• The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing, unless it is the ensign responding to a salute from a ship of a foreign nation.

• The flag should always to lighted, whether by natural light or lamps of some sort. If no outside lamps are available, the flag must be taken down at night and cannot be displayed until sunrise.

• If the edges become tattered through wear or dirty, the flag should be repaired, cleaned or replaced. If it can’t be repaired it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning.

• The flag should never touch the ground. A common myth that if a flag touches the ground, it must be burned. While a flag that is currently touching the ground and a soiled flag are unfit for display, neither situation is permanent and thus the flag does not need to be burned if the unfit situation is remedied.

• One of the most commonly ignored aspects of the Flag Code is section 8. "The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery." This includes any picture or representation of the flag purporting to be of the flag of the United States of America. Therefore T-shirts, or other apparel made of or containing a representation of the flag are in violation of the code.

• The flag should not be used for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.

• When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.

• When an American Flag is displayed in a parade with other flags it should either be marching on the right or in front at the center of the line.

• When the flag is displayed with non-national flags it should be at the center and at the highest point of the group.

• When the flag is displayed with other National flags they are to be flown from separate staffs, at the same height and be of equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.

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