Care and use of the flag

The American flag represents a living country and is to be considered living itself. It is to be treated with the respect of a living thing.

The stars and stripes has been a symbol of our countries freedom and way of life since the day it was first created by Congress in 1777. Since then it has been carried into battle, and displayed nearly everywhere you look. Today, you can hardly look around without seeing an American flag. With all these flags on display, you would think that everyone would know proper flag etiquette and care. This is not the case however. I will share with you here, the basics that every citizen in America should know about our Nations flag.

First we need to know when you should display your flag and how it should be displayed. Basically, you can display your flag every day of the year, but there are some days that the flag should be flown in particular. They are as follows:

New Year's Day, January 1

Inauguration Day, January 20

Lincoln's Birthday, February 12

Washington's Birthday, 3rd Monday in February

Easter Sunday (variable)

Mother's Day, 2nd Sunday in May

Armed Forces Day, 3rd Saturday in May

Memorial Day (half-staff until noon), last Monday in May

Flag Day, June 14

Independence Day, July 4

Labor Day, 1st Monday in September

Constitution Day, September 17

Columbus Day, 2nd Monday in October

Navy Day, October 27

Veterans Day, November 11

Thanksgiving Day, 4th Thursday in November

Christmas Day, December 25

Other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States

The birthdays of States (date of admission)

State holidays

And most recently added, Patriot Day September 11

If you are displaying the flag outdoors, there are a few guidelines you should follow. They are; when being displayed from a staff projecting from a window, balcony or other building, the union (the blue) should be at the peak of the staff unless being flown at half-staff. When using a flagpole, this remains the same. No other flag may be flown higher than the American flag except a church pennant during church services for Navy personnel during a service conducted by a Naval chaplain on a ship at sea.

Generally the flag is raised at sunup and then lowered at sundown. You may leave your flag up through the night, but it should be illuminated. When displaying the flag indoors, it is to be in a place of honor and always positioned to it's own right. Place it to the right of a speaker or staging area. Any other flags should be to the left of the American flag.

When displaying the Flag in Mourning, it is to be raised to the peak and then lowered to a point halfway between the top and the ground. Before the flag is to be lowered, it must again rise to the peak position and then lowered to the ground. The flag should always be raised briskly and then lowered slowly. It should be saluted as it is hoisted and lowered and never be permitted to touch the ground at any point. Once the flag is removed from the halyard, it should be properly folded before being stored.

Proper folding of the American flag requires two individuals to accomplish correctly with an average size flag. Bigger flags may need more people to support the middle as it is being folded. To fold the flag begin by stretching the flag out flat between you and your helper. Have the helper hold the Union end in their left hand. Position yourself facing the helper, this would put the side of the flag that has the Union on it, in your right hand.

Fold the flag in half one time by bringing your left hand over to your right hand. The stripes should now be covering the Union. Repeat this fold once again, this time fold your right hand to your left hand. This will put the Union on the top. From here you will take your left hand and make a triangular fold to the edge of the material that your right hand is holding. Then fold the point over one time toward your helper making another fold. You will continue this pattern until you reach your helper. (If you have ever made a paper football, this is what your flag should look like.) There should be enough material left to tuck the remainder into the open flap, thus closing off the lose end. You have now folded your flag in the "traditional" not required manor. There is no code for folding the flag.

This should get you started with proper etiquette for the American flag. When your flag becomes dirty or worn beyond repair, it is time to honorably dispose of it, but that is another article all together.

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