U.S Flag ‘A living thing’

Published 9:39 am Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Did you fly a United States flag on Memorial Day? Did you know that proper flag etiquette for Memorial Day is to fly the flag at half-staff until noon, and then raise the flag to the top of the staff for the remainder of the day?

That flag flying protocol tidbit comes from the U.S. Code: Title 4, which is all about how to treat the United States flag.

It’s a document we all should spend some time reading.

Here are some other rules about our country’s flag:

“It’s a universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs 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 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. (This means the flag flying from a plastic staff attached to the window of your car or truck is not considered appropriate.)

“When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union (the blue portion of the flag) should be 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 (above) an east and west street or to the east in (above) a north and south street.”

“The flag should form a distinctive feature of the ceremony of unveiling a statue or monument, but it should never be used as the covering for the statue or monument.”

“The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day, the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff …”

And when it comes to respecting the flag, the rules are clear and specific. Here are a few:

“No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.”

“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 be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free …”

“The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.”

Perhaps one of the most important elements of the U.S. Code that pertains to the U.S. flag is how each citizen should think of our flag: “The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.”