Cortez Journal

American Flag Etiquette

Sept. 22, 2001

The following is taken from the American Legion Flag Etiquette manual on civilian use and display of the American flag.

Displaying the flag properly:

• It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flag staffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

• The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.

• The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.

• The flag, when carried in a procession with another flag or flags, should be either on the marching right, or if there is a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.

• The flag should not be displayed on a float in a parade except from a staff.

• The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat. When the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.

• When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle from the window sill, balcony or front of a building, the union of the flag should be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff.

• When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left.

• When displayed in a window, the flag should be displayed in the same way with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.

• When the flag is displayed over the middle of the street, it should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street or to the east in a north and south street.

Respect for the flag:

• 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.

• The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water or merchandise.

• The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.

Flags at half staff:

• The flag is displayed at half-staff as a gesture to indicate the nation mourns the death of an individual or individuals.

• The flag is half-staffed on Memorial Day, from sunrise until noon; it is displayed at full staff from noon until sunset.

• The flag is half-staffed by order of the President of the United States, or by the governor of any state, territory or possession.

The flag as apparel:

• The flag itself should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding or drapery.

According to code, only members of the military, firemen, policemen or patriotic organizations may wear a flag patch on their uniform. Use of the flag patch on costumes, athletic clothing or casual wear is deemed inappropriate.

Copyright © 2001 the Cortez Journal. All rights reserved.
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