Us Flag Etiquette

Written by Beth Hrusch
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The American flag represents the United States both at home and abroad. It has become an ambassador of sorts, a symbol of American values and a cultural icon. As such, it is to be accorded the same respect that is given to people who represent the government. Flag etiquette is a set of rules governing the proper treatment of the American flag, and anyone displaying or handling a U.S. flag should be aware of these rules.

The Flag Code

America celebrated its first Flag Day on June 14, 1923. At this time, a National Flag Conference convened with the purpose of codifying flag etiquette. Prior to this time, there was no national standard for the proper handling of the U.S. flag. After a few amendments, Congress passed this Code into law in 1942. For those who question whether they are adhering to good flag etiquette, one rule of thumb is that any use of the flag for anything other than display is prohibited. If you are using it to wrap, carry, or drape over something else (other than a casket), then you are violating good etiquette.

Of course, there are several other specific stipulations. The flag should not be defaced in any way, either by writing on it or cutting it. When lowering the flag, no part of it should touch the ground, and it should be folded neatly for storage. When flying the flag, there are a variety of options, but it is important to remember that the U.S. flag must always be the highest flag flying and it must be placed at the center when in a group of other flags.

These are just a few of the rules governing flag etiquette. The purpose of these rules, as stated by the Flag Code, is to ensure that there is a standard by which all Americans display the flag, thereby avoiding the likelihood that the flag will be desecrated or treated with disrespect. Any American who adheres to the basic rules for handling and displaying the flag is showing their respect for a powerful and venerable representative of American values.


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