Since those of us who live in the U.S. will be celebrating “Independence Day” this weekend, I thought it might be a good time to offer a refresher on how to PROPERLY and respectfully display our stars and stripes.
If you plan on flying the red, white, and blue this weekend, my son Erik, who has become quite the flag expert, is going to help us do it right!
Here are the basics so you can brush up before the old glory’s big day!
I love flags. This week leading up to Independence Day, I have flown one of seven “Revolutionary War era” historical flags that I own. They are living pieces of history, and are often rich with symbolism and meaning. The American flag is no different. I fly mine regularly.
In this post, I was asked to share some of my knowledge, along with some of the United States flag code, to make sure we are all treating the flag with the respect it deserves.
- The Union (the 50 stars) should always be on the left when hung on a wall. The reason for this is simply that this is the most important part of the flag, and represents a living nation. Because we read and observe from left to right, top to bottom, we put the Union in the top left. Therefore, no matter if it’s hung vertically, or horizontally, the stars should always be on the left side.
- The flag should be retired after sunset, UNLESS it is properly illuminated. This practice simply shows respect for the flag. I bought a small solar-powered landscaping light that I keep at the base of the flag, and it keeps it lit up until the next morning.
- Bring in the flag during inclement weather, UNLESS you have an “all-weather” flag. I have one made of nylon. It is a tough material, and dries quickly after getting wet. Most flags made nowadays are constructed with weather-proof material, but some are made of cotton, or a poly-cotton blend which can fade, shrink, or weather poorly in stormy conditions.
- It is perfectly okay to fold the flag into a square during regular storage. A lot of people attempt the origami-like “triangle fold” and while that is customary, and should be folded that way for long-term storage or display, nothing in the U.S. flag code states that the flag should be stored in the triangle fold all the time.
Some extra tips and reminders…
- According to the Flag Code, if anything looks like an American flag, it should be considered as one. Therefore, avoid buying plates, napkins, drapery, cushions etc. that would be discarded or treated in a way unbecoming of our nation’s colors. Bunting and anything red, white, and blue is fine. Just avoid eating potato salad off something that looks just like the flag.
- It is perfectly okay to wash/mend an American flag. A lot of dry cleaners will clean an American flag for free. But if a flag is faded, weathered or torn beyond worthy repair, it should be retired by burning.
- You don’t need to destroy a flag if it has touched the ground. If cleaning or repair needs to happen, make arrangements, and fly your flag again.
If you don’t currently own an American flag, buying and displaying one makes a great Independence Day activity!
And now that you know proper flag etiquette, you can show off the stars and stripes with confidence and pride!