The American Flag
The American flag has alternating 13 red and white stripes and blue patch in the upper left corner, filled with 50 white stars representing each of the states of the union. It is America’s most familiar and proud symbols and is steeped in history. Americans lovingly call their flag Old Glory.
The flag is the symbol of freedom and hope of the American people and must be handled and displayed respectfully. There are many rules and regulations regarding the care and display of the flag. Some of these rules explain how to display the flag, how to fold it, how to destroy it and even how to raise and lower it.
All Americans need to learn the conventions of handling, caring for and displaying their beloved flag. Here are some things you should know:
Folding the Flag
The proper way to fold the flag is as follows:
First, fold the flag in half, along its width, twice. Next fold it in a triangle, starting at the striped ends, by taking one corner and bringing it down onto the opposite side of the stripes (making a triangle shape at its striped end). Then fold the straight bottom of that triangle over so that another triangle can be made by simply folding the base side (the side opposite the hypotenuse – the long slanted side) of the triangle over itself again and again. Repeat this until just the union end is showing. Then tuck the end into the open fold. This will make a triangle that shows the stars.
Displaying the Flag
•If the flag is to be flown at half staff (one half of the distance between top and bottom of the flagpole; which is done during times of mourning) raise the flag to its peak, then lower it to half staff. •When lowering the flag at the end of the day, raise it to its peak before lowering it. •If the flag is displayed over the middle of a street, hang it vertically, with the union- the stars that is—at the North in an East and Westward running street, or with the union at the East on a North and Southern running street. •Only attach crepe streamers to spearheads or flag staffs in a pair, by order of the President of the United States. •If the flag is displayed with another flag and their staffs are crossed, the American flag must be on the right, with its staff in front of the other. •If other flags, such as those of States or cities, or pennants of societies, are to be flown on the halyard the flag of the United States is flown on, the United States flag must be at the peak. •If the flag is to be displayed at an angle from a window sill, or balcony, or front of a building, place the union at the peak of the staff (unless the flag is flying at half staff). •If flags are flown adjacent to Old Glory, hoist the United States flag first, and lower it last. No other flag should be raised above that of the United States, nor should any fly to the right of the United States flag. •Hoist the flag out, union first, if the flag is to be suspended from a rope extending from a house to a pole at the edge of a sidewalk. •When using the flag to cover a casket, place it so that the union is at the head, over the left shoulder. The flag is not to be lowered into the grave, or permitted to touch the ground. •If the flag is displayed any other way than by a staff, it must be displayed flat (in or out of doors). Display the union at the top, and to the flag’s right, be it horizontal or vertical on a wall. •Display the stars at the top right of the flag when displayed in a window, with the union to the left if being observed from the outdoors. •Never use the flag for festoons, draping, or rosettes. •The American Flag must be carried on the right when marching in procession with other flags. •When marching in procession, if the flags are in a line, the American flag must be the front of center. •The American flag must be the highest, and center flag when displayed with other flags on staffs. •If flags from different nations are displayed, fly them from separate staffs, at equal heights. Also, flags flown together should be of the same size. Do not display the flag of one nation above another during peacetime. •If the flag is displayed, by staff, in a church, on a podium, or in a public auditorium, it must hold the superior position before the audience and in the position of honour at the speaker’s right when facing the audience. All other flags should be displayed to the left of the speaker. •Never drape the American Flag over a vehicle, train, or boat. •When flying the flag on an automobile the staff should be secured to the chassis or right fender. •Only display the flag from sunrise to sunset on buildings or flagstaffs when outdoors. •The flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if it is illuminated at night. •Raise the flag briskly, and lower it respectfully. •The flag must not be flown in inclement weather unless it is an all-weather flag.
Showing Respect for the Flag
Always treat the United States Flag with the utmost respect.
•Never display the flag with the union down, unless to signal distress. •Never let the flag touch the ground. •Never carry the flag flat or horizontally, but free, and raised. •Never use the flag as clothing, bedding, curtains, towels or other common objects. •Do not fold the flag festively or use it as a decoration. •Never display or store the flag so that it is vulnerable to damage or filth. •When the flag is in poor condition, it must be destroyed in a dignified way. Do not throw the flag in the trash. •The flag is not to be used for advertising purposes, or on napkins or anything that is to be discarded. •Never use the flag, or any part of it, in a costume or uniform. A flag patch may be worn by military personnel, firefighters, policemen, and patriotic organizations. •Never use the flag as a covering for the ceiling or windows. •Never place anything on the flag, such as a word, picture, mark, or letter.
Retiring the Flag
Flags in poor condition – that are soiled, tattered, worn or frayed, must be properly destroyed. The suggested method of retiring a flag is to burn it. Do not try to dispose of the flag alone, get help from the local VA, VFW, Police, Fire Department, Elks Lodge, Lions Lodge, Mason Lodge, or other patriotic organization.