Respecting the Flag

Posted By on April 14, 2011

For years I’ve suffered, mostly in silence, but on rare occasions my feelings have been shared with my closest friends. Driving down streets, boulevards, avenues, and the highways and by-ways of this wonderful country is often an exercise in self-control, and perpetual disgust. Rarely do I observe a flag being properly displayed. I see faded flags, torn flags, tattered flags, ripped flags, flags snagged on trees, buildings, awnings, railings, shutters, gutters and utility poles. I see cloth flags subjected to rain, violent winds, snow and ice. There are flags flying at night and before dawn.

After 9-11 I had the fleeting hope that all of that would change, but as the months and years have passed my disappointment returned. Many who wish to exhibit their patriotism never realize actually demean that patriotism by the very manner of display. Sadly, I’ve even seen them displayed at the homes of veterans improperly.

So, what are some of the guidelines around displaying the flag of the United States properly?

  • It is the 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. 4 USC, Section 6 (a)
  • The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all weather flag is displayed. 4 USC, Section 6 (c) (That means if it is raining, snowing, brisk to strong winds or just “nasty” weather, take it down.)
  • If the flag is displayed from a flagpole, or mast it should fly unhindered by any nearby obstruction. That is it should be far enough away from a building, trees, power lines and any other object that would hinder its free motion in wind from any direction.
  • The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. 4 USC, Section 8 (i) (I would classify BIG, gaudy flags in front of places of business as “advertising purposes,” the intent is to draw attention to the business, and how “patriotic” it is; i.e. advertising.)
  • The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. 4 USC, Section 8 (d)
  • The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way. 4 USC, Section 8 (e)
  • The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. 4 USC, Section 8 (k) (That means if it is faded, soiled, torn, tattered, shredded, ripped, discolored, worn out or anything else that alters it appearance it should be respectfully disposed of. You can take such flags to your nearest American Legion Hall, and its members will provide such a respectful service.)

You may find more on the Flag Code by visiting,, or you may find the entire text of the US Code at,

Now, I’ve gotten that off my chest. Please share this with others. You can even print this out and give it to businesses, or individuals displaying the flag in an inappropriate manner.

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