Displaying the American flag on the Fourth of July is a way of showing how much you love your country, but did you know there’s a right way and a wrong way to fly it?
You may have noticed that flags in your city are flying at half staff this weekend; this is in honor of Senator Robert Byrd, a West Virginia Democrat and longest serving U.S. Senator, who died at 92 on Monday, June 28th.
In keeping with tradition, President Barack Obama ordered that flags at federal buildings fly at half-staff until sundown on Tuesday, July 6th. However, the Presidential proclamation makes an exception for Independence Day, meaning that all flags, including those at U.S. federal buildings, will be raised to their full height on Sunday, July 4th, to honor our country.
If you’re flying your flag this weekend, be sure to do it correctly. For a full rundown of the rules of flag flying, check out the U.S. Flag Code, otherwise known as the Federal Flag Amendment of 2007.
- Fly the American flag higher than your other flags. We all like to show our pride for home states, sports teams, colleges and more, but the flag of the United States should always be at the center of any display and should be the highest point of a group.
- If it’s flying horizontally or at an angle, the “union” (the stars) should be at the peak of the flagstaff. Flying the flag with the union at the bottom symbolizes “dire distress”.
- If you’re suspending it on a rope between buildings or houses, hoist the flag out, union first, from the building.
- Don’t lay the flag across a car in a parade or on a parade float unless it’s hoisted on a flagstaff.
- Bring your flag inside in inclement weather — unless you have an all-weather flag.
- Raise the flag at sunup (or later), and take it down at sunset, unless you have proper lighting to keep it illuminated during the night hours.
- Don’t let the flag touch the ground. It’s a sign of disrespect. Similarly, don’t use the flag to wrap, hold, or carry anything.
- Don’t substitute a flag for a table cloth; the flag is not to touch anything underneath it, nor should it be displayed horizontally. In addition, using the flag in any manner that might result in it getting dirty is a no.
- Flag pins should be worn on the left lapel, nearest the heart, as the flag is considered a living thing.
- Flags that are tattered or torn should be replaced — contact your local veterans organization or Boy or Girl Scouts to find a flag disposal service near you, or sent it to the Flag Keepers.
Regardless of where, and how, you fly your American flag, please take a moment to reflect on the big “why” of our celebration — the birthday of our Great Nation.
Best wishes to our fine service men and women serving around this troubled world. We thank all of you for your service, patriotism, and sacrifice.