Long may it wave: Rules and respect for the flag

Mary Ann Kearns - [email protected]
Flags along Limestone Street in Maysville. -
Mason County Courthouse decorated for both Memorial Day and Flag Day -
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It may or may not have been Betsy Ross, at the behest of George Washington, who designed the stars and stripes that would become the flag of the United States of America. No one knows for certain.

But what we do know is that an order to establish an official flag for the newly created nation was passed by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777.

“Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

As the nation grew, so did the number of stars and stripes until it evolved into today’s version of Old Glory — 13 alternating red and white stripes representing the 13 original colonies and a blue field with a star for each of the 50 states.

And while it has at times been the center of controversy recently, it is still the symbol of freedom to which much of the world aspires.

When displaying the flag or even discarding the flag, there are rules of etiquette and even a code which should be followed and with Flag Day and the Fourth of July approaching, it seemed like a timely topic to explore. We have gathered some of that information for our readers with thanks to usflag.org, a website dedicated to the flag of the United States of America.

Standards of respect

The Flag Code, which formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which we give respect to the flag, also contains specific instructions on how the flag is not to be used. They are:

  • The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
  • The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speakers desk, draping a platform, or 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.
  • The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard
  • The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
  • The flag should never have placed on it, or attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind.
  • The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

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.

The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.

When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.

Displaying the Flag Outdoors

When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a window, balcony, or a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff.

When it is displayed from the same flagpole with another flag – of a state, community, society or Scout unit – the flag of the United States must always be at the top except that the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for Navy personnel when conducted by a Naval chaplain on a ship at sea.

When the flag is displayed over a street, it should be hung vertically, with the union to the north or east. If the flag is suspended over a sidewalk, the flag’s union should be farthest from the building.

When flown with flags of states, communities, or societies on separate flag poles which are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor – to its own right.

..The other flags may be smaller but none may be larger.

..No other flag ever should be placed above it.

..The flag of the United States is always the first flag raised and the last to be lowered.

When flown with the national banner of other countries, each flag must be displayed from a separate pole of the same height. Each flag should be the same size. They should be raised and lowered simultaneously. The flag of one nation may not be displayed above that of another nation.

Raising and Lowering the Flag

The flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously. Ordinarily it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night.

The flag of the United States of America is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered. The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of music, whichever is the longest.

Displaying the Flag Indoors

When on display, the flag is accorded the place of honor, always positioned to its own right. Place it to the right of the speaker or staging area or sanctuary. Other flags should be to the left.

The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of states, localities, or societies are grouped for display.

When one flag is used with the flag of the United States of America and the staffs are crossed, the flag of the United States is placed on its own right with its staff in front of the other flag.

When displaying the flag against a wall, vertically or horizontally, the flag’s union (stars) should be at the top, to the flag’s own right, and to the observer’s left.

The Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem

The pledge of allegiance should be rendered by standing at attention, facing the flag, and saluting.

When the national anthem is played or sung, citizens should stand at attention and salute at the first note and hold the salute through the last note. The salute is directed to the flag, if displayed, otherwise to the music.

Finally, we leave you with these words from “I am the Flag,” by Ruth Apperson Rous.

“Americans, I am the sacred emblem of your country. I symbolize your birthright, your heritage of liberty purchased with blood and sorrow.

I am your title deed of freedom, which is yours to enjoy and hold in trust for posterity.

If you fail to keep this sacred trust inviolate, if I am nullified and destroyed, you and your children will become slaves to dictators and despots.

Eternal vigilance is your price of freedom.

As you see me silhouetted against the peaceful skies of my country, remind yourself that I am the flag of your country, that I stand for what you are – no more, no less.

Guard me well, lest your freedom perish from the earth.

Dedicate your lives to those principles for which I stand: “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

I was created in freedom. I made my first appearance in a battle for human liberty.

God grant that I may spend eternity in my “land of the free and the home of the brave” and that I shall ever be known as “Old Glory,” the flag of the United States of America.”

Flags along Limestone Street in Maysville.
https://maysville-online.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_flag01-1.jpgFlags along Limestone Street in Maysville.

Mason County Courthouse decorated for both Memorial Day and Flag Day
https://maysville-online.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_flag03-1.jpgMason County Courthouse decorated for both Memorial Day and Flag Day

https://maysville-online.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/web1_flag04-1.jpg

Mary Ann Kearns

[email protected]