What comes to mind when you think of the American flag?
Patriotism? Honor? How about the land of the free and home of the brave?
Quite frankly, the Stars and Stripes represent all of these things and more! It’s a living symbol of our national identity; the icon of our history and principles that we rally around in difficult times. The Star-Spangled Banner even flies on the moon!
All things considered, it’s no wonder so many of us choose to show respect to the flag by displaying it from our homes. However, what fewer people realize is that there are strict guidelines around the practice. There are set rules and procedures we all must follow to ensure we show our flag (and everything it stands for) an appropriate level of respect.
Image by Michael Bußmann
Want to find out all about them? Check out this comprehensive guide on the right way to display the American flag.
Don’t Let It Touch the Ground
The first rule of flying the American flag is to keep it off the ground at all cost! There are both practical and symbolic reasons for this particular rule. Think about it: keeping your flag off the floor prevents it from ever landing in the dirt, or from being soiled.
In effect, you’re treating it like something sacred; with deference and admiration. It isn’t defiled or spoiled and, as a result, you only ever fly a pristine Star-Spangled Banner from your home! Everything about the practice demonstrates your respect for the flag and what it represents.
You Can Display It Every Day of the Year
According to the official US Flag Code, we’re free to fly the flag throughout the entire year. Weekdays, weekends, public holidays…You name it, and you’re allowed to display the Stars and Stripes. But don’t worry if you don’t want to start flying a flag on such a regular basis!
Many people around the country choose to display it only on special days and celebrations instead. In fact, this is when the guidelines tell us to do it. Be sure to break out and hoist the flag whenever New Year’s Day, Inauguration Day, Easter Sunday, Independence Day, and other occasions of that ilk come about.
Lower the Flag in Inclement Weather
There are one or two notable exceptions to the previous rule. For instance, it’s true that you’re encouraged to fly the flag every single day. Yet that’s only the case if/when the weather’s good enough to do it.
The guidelines state that you should a) take it down if the conditions turn during the day and b) refuse to put it up in the first place in inclement weather. That’s why you rarely see the American flag when it’s windy, raining, or snowing outside! It’s another way to show respect to the Star-Spangled Banner and what it means to our country.
Hate the idea of not displaying the flag? Don’t worry! One way around this rule is to buy an all-weather flag, which you’re allowed to hoist regardless of what the weather’s doing.
Don’t Display the Flag at Night
General flag flying practice states that you should display the flag every day from sunrise to sunset. In other words, you’re not meant to keep it suspended from your American flagpole at night! If your flag’s on display in any open space, then you should lower it as soon as the sun sinks below the horizon.
Once again, though, there’s a handy way around this rule. Find a way to illuminate your flag throughout the night and you can keep it flying 24/7. Buy yourself an all-weather flag to go with the outdoor lighting and you’d never have to lower it!
Another bonus of illuminating your flag is for the aesthetic results it delivers. There’s something special about seeing the Stars and Stripes lit up in the evening. It’s the epitome of patriotism, which is the exact reason you’re allowed to do it.
Display It at Half-Staff in Times of Mourning
Displaying the American flag isn’t always about celebrating what it means to be American. It’s also a way to demonstrate solidarity and togetherness in challenging times.
In moments of national tragedy and mourning, for instance, everybody in the country lowers their flags to half-staff. Listen out for a presidential proclamation (or an order from your state’s governor) that’ll tell you when to do it.
Memorial Day’s another occasion when it’s customary to display the flag at half-staff. You should hoist it to the halfway position from sunrise until noon, at which point you can raise it to the top. In so doing, you’ll join the rest of the country in commemorating the brave men and women who’ve given their lives in service to America.
Hang It Right
The manner in which you should display the flag comes with its own set of guidelines. For example, many Americans hang the flag on a pole that sticks out at an angle from their porch. If you wish to do the same, then the Union (AKA, the blue part with the stars) must be at the top of the staff.
When you display it vertically or horizontally on a wall, the Union must be in the top left corner as you look at it. And if you have multiple flags flying from the same staff, then the Star-Spangled Banner should be at the top!
Show Respect by Displaying Your American Flag the Proper Way
It’s hard to overstate the significance of the American flag. This emblem of our great nation represents everything that we hold dear: our freedom, sovereignty, and shared history, among others.
That’s why it’s so important to display it correctly from our homes. Hanging the Stars and Stripes in the right way (and at the right times) is one of the best ways to show respect to everything it symbolizes.
Did you find value in this post? Browse the blog to read similar articles now!