Flag Etiquette

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.

Displaying the Flag:

On Same Staff
U.S. flag at peak, above any other flag.

Grouped
U.S. flag goes to its own right. Flags of other nations are flown at same height.

Marching
U.S. flag to marchers right (observer’s left).

On Speaker’s Platform
When displayed with a speaker’s platform, it must be above and behind the speaker. If mounted on a staff it is on the speaker’s right.

Decoration
Never use the flag for decoration. Use bunting with the blue on top, then white, then red.

Salute
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.

Over a Street Union (stars) face north or east depending on the direction of the street.

Half Staff
On special days, the flag may be flown at half-staff. On Memorial Day it is flown at half-staff until noon and then raised.
Do not let the flag touch the ground.
Do not fly flag upside down unless there is an emergency.
Do not carry the flag flat, or carry things in it.
Do not use the flag as clothing.
Do not store the flag where it can get dirty.
Do not use it as a cover.
Do not fasten it or tie it back. Always allow it to fall free.
Do not draw on, or otherwise mark the flag.

Flag Disposal

1. The flag should be folded in its customary manner.
2. It is important that the fire be fairly large and of sufficient intensity to ensure complete burning of the flag.
3. Place the flag on the fire.
4. The individual(s) can come to attention, salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and have a brief period of silent reflection.
5. After the flag is completely consumed, the fire should then be safely extinguished and the ashes buried.
6. Please make sure you are conforming to local/state fire codes or ordinances.

Note: Please contact your local VFW Post if you’d like assistance or more information on proper flag disposal.

Flag Code Public Law 94-344, known as the Federal Flag Code, contains rules for handling and displaying the U.S. flag. While the federal code contains no penalties for misusing the flag, states have their own flag codes and may impose penalties. The language of the federal code makes clear that the flag is a living symbol.
In response to a Supreme Court decision which held that a state law prohibiting flag burning was unconstitutional, Congress enacted the Flag Protection Act in 1989. It provides that anyone who knowingly desecrates the flag may be fined and/or imprisoned for up to one year. However, this law was challenged by the Supreme Court in a 1990 decision that the Flag Protection Act violates the First Amendment free speech protections

OLD GLORY:

The name “Old Glory” was first applied to the U.S. flag by a young sea captain who lived in Salem, Mass. On his 21st birthday, March 17, 1824, Capt. William Driver was presented a beautiful flag by his mother and a group of Salem girls. Driver was delighted with the gift and named the flag “Old Glory.” Old Glory accompanied the captain on his many sea voyages. In 1837 he quit sailing and settled in Nashville. On patriotic days he displayed Old Glory proudly from a rope extending from his house to a tree across the street.

After Tennessee seceded from the Union in 1861, Captain Driver hid Old Glory, sewing it inside a comforter. When the Union soldiers entered Nashville on February 25, 1862, Driver removed Old Glory from its hiding place. He carried the flag to the capitol building and raised it above the state capitol. Shortly before his death, the old sea captain placed a small bundle into the arms of his daughter. He said to her: “Mary Jane, this is my ship’s flag, Old Glory. It has been my constant companion. I love it as a mother loves her child. Cherish it as I have cherished it.”

The flag remained as a precious heirloom in the Driver family until 1922. It was then sent to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., where it is carefully preserved under glass.

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