When Old Glory passes by, whether in a parade, at a sporting event or ceremony, I find myself taken with emotion. My eyes often well up with tears, and I am reminded of all it stands for and represents. It represents our nation’s freedom and the price that so many have paid for that freedom. For military families, it holds a special place in our hearts, as it does and should for all Americans. Our stars and stripes are to be honored and held in the highest esteem, let that always be in the forefront of our hearts and minds as we honor Old Glory. As Flag Day approaches, on Wednesday, June 14, some flag etiquette reminders are always good to review. (Yes, we learned a couple new ones in researching for this topic!) Some you may also find familiar and possibly one’s that are not as familiar as we look to celebrate Flag Day.
June 14 commemorates the adoption of the flag which occurred on June 14, 1777 by resolution of the Second Continental Congress. Since the Flag of United States is considered a living entity, it has many special guidelines and instructions that are never to be compromised. The areas we will cover are: care, saluting, displaying the flag, pledge of allegiance, national anthem, “when to fly the flag.”
The red, white and starry blue is freedom’s shield and hope.” John Philip Sousa
- Every precaution should be embraced to keep our flag from becoming, tattered, torn, soiled or damaged.
- When holding the flag, do your very best to keep it from brushing against other objects.
- Dry clean flags. If for some reason it gets wet, dry flat and do not fold or roll the flag during this process.
- It is acceptable to trim or repair edges and resew stripes if flag is in overall good condition.
Saluting our Flag
- When a flag passes by in a parade, civilians, place your right hand over your heart.
- Men and women (civilians) with caps and hats, remove hat and hold it in your right hand, over your heart.
- Men and women in uniform should give an appropriate formal salute.
Displaying the Flag
- It is considered acceptable to fly the flag from sunrise to sunset
- It may be flown at night as long as it is appropriately illuminated.
- The flag should be unfurled and raised at a moderate pace, and lowered slowly and ceremoniously.
- In poor or inclement weather, the flag should not be flown.
- On an angled staff, the flag projects horizontally or angled from a building, windowsill, balcony etc. The blue union stars should be at the peak of the staff, except when at half-staff.
- The Flag of the United States of America has the place of honor and should always be to the right of the speaker.
- The flag should be in the center and at the highest point when with a grouping of flags.
- When displayed against a wall either vertically or horizontally, the flag’s union stars should be at the top, to the flag’s own right, and those viewing or observing to their left.
Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem
In 2007, Congress highlighted protocol for the pledge and national anthem in 36 USC 301.
- Everyone abled person should stand, regardless of age, face the flag, and place their right hand over their heart for the entire allegiance and anthem.
- If moving to your seat or in motion as the anthem begins, stop and follow the above guidelines.
- When another country’s anthem is played, it is played first, before the National Anthem. Stand respectfully, but do not salute in any way.
“When to Fly the Flag”
- On all days that the weather permits
Special Attention to the Following Days:
- New Year’s Day
- Inauguration Day
- Martin Luther King Jr. Day
- Lincoln’s Birthday
- Washington’s Birthday
- Easter Sunday
- Mother’s Day
- Armed Forces Day
- Memorial Day (Half-staff until noon)
- Flag Day
- Father’s Day
- Independence Day
- National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day
- Labor Day
- Constitution Day
- Columbus Day
- Armed Forces Day
- Veteran’s Day
- Thanksgiving Day
- Christmas Day
- Election Day
- State and Local Holidays
- Your State’s Birthdays
Let us always hold these principles dear, and share these etiquette guidelines with our friends, family and neighbors who possibly do not have the same opportunities that we as, military families do, to regularly honor Old Glory. May it always be that shining symbol of freedom and may it always have the respect that it is due and rightly deserved!
“One Flag, One Land, One Heart, One Hand, One Nation Evermore!” Oliver Wendell Holmes
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Written by: © Susan A. Vernick, Etiquette Chics ™
Emily Post’s Etiquette, 18th Edition
“Our Flag” by Reserve Officers Association of the United States