Archive for the ‘Flag Day’ Category

There are a whole bunch of law having to do with the US flag, codified in 4USC:
1. Flag; stripes and stars on.
2. Same; additional stars.
3. Use of flag for advertising purposes; mutilation of flag.
4. Pledge of allegiance to the flag; manner of delivery.
5. Display and use of flag by civilians; codification of
rules and customs; definition.
6. Time and occasions for display.
7. Position and manner of display.
8. Respect for flag.
9. Conduct during hoisting, lowering or passing of flag.
10. Modification of rules and customs by President.

Here’s Section 8, with a few notes in italics from me.

Sec. 8. Respect for flag

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.
(a) 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.
Is a time of war a period of “dire distress”?
(b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
Actually, something I try to teach the child.
(c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
(d) 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. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.
I’ve seen the flag as wearing apparel by people who wear trying to be “patriotic”.
(e) 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.
Elsewhere in the title, there are times to fly it: “The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all weather flag is displayed.”
(f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
Seen that.
(g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.
(h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.
I have occasionally seen company logo flags on the same pole as the US flag.
(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.
I didn’t know that sports teams were “patriotic organizations.
(k) 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.
Lots of ragged old flags out there, especially since 9/11/2001. If you don’t want to burn it yourself, take it to the local VFW.


Sometimes, I just need to guess, even when I can look it up. I was trying to surmise why June 14, specifically, is Flag Day. Is it that there are 21 days from June 14 to July 4, inclusive, which seems to have morphed National Flag Week into a nearly month long tricolor display? Is this somehow tied to the 21-gun salute or the 21 steps used at Arlington National Cemetery?

Evidently not: the Continental Congress approved the design of a national flag on June 14, 1777, 230 years ago today. BTW, there have been 27 versions of the flag over the years.

In the Business Review (May 25, 2007), the local business weekly, it was reported that a pizza shop owner in Latham has lowered the American flag to half staff in front of his shop on May 18 to honor the more than 3,400 soldiers killed in Iraq. From the headline, it was also a way to protest the war. The story has angered an Iraq war vet, who wrote in the June 1 issue that he was disappointed in the paper for running such a story on Memorial Day weekend. He also noted Title 4 of the United States Code, Section 7(m) gives the allowable reasons for flying a flag; the protest was not one of the acceptable reasons.

This reminded me of some flag etiquette issues that took place during the VietNam War. There were some who flew the flag upside down. From Title 4, Section 8 (a) of the U.S. Code: “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.” Of course, I believe those engaged in the behavior believed that the war WAS an “extreme danger to life or property.”

I understand both the pizza man’s protest AND the soldier’s frustration. I recognize that the flag lowering could be perceived as provocative. Yet, the soldier’s point is a bit legalistic, I think, given other sections of the code violated freely:
8 (i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Like this never happens.

Oh, and I still stand by what I wrote about flag burning a couple years back.
Bombs away! Or, as the person sending me this link wrote: Want to see something really stupid? I thought this was just an urban legend, but apparently not.


My family was not one that flew the flag on major patriotic holidays (Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, etc.) I don’t know why, and I never asked. One could theorize, and my May 30 post may provide some insight, but it would be just an educated guess. They may not have even owned one.
So I was a bit surprised when I went down to visit my family in North Carolina in 2002 that there was this flag motif in the front yard. Of course, my father was deceased by then, but it got me thinking that there’s one thing 9/11 definitely DID change.

(There’s an interesting debate about flag pins in the Letters to the Editor section of a webpage I came across.)

After 9/11, and the beginnings of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, there have been lots of flags put up, not just in front of homes, but from vehicles, at highway overpasses, in store windows, and the like.

Though I still don’t own a flag myself, I’ve found that I have been bothered by the well-meaning displays of the colors, but not for the reasons you might guess. It bugs me because too many of them look TERRIBLE- flags that are frayed, torn, soiled, faded.

There are rules for displaying the flag in the U.S. Code, the codification of laws in the United States, and one section deals specifically with treatment of the colors.

You don’t make a scarf for a dog in the Memorial Day parade out of a small flag (as I saw in Oneonta this year.)

When a flag is worn out, you take it and ceremonially burn it. Yes, burn it. There was a real to-do about creating an anti-flag burning amendment to the Constitution a few years back. I always wondered how it would have been worded so that the legitimate disposal of the flag could be achieved.

So, if you have a flag, or have put a flag in a public place, check it out. If it looks worn out, take it down, and dispose of it properly. If the idea of burning the flag bothers you, bring it to the local VFW. It’s very likely that they will do it for you.

If you want, get a new flag to replace the old. Do it now, in this prime flag flying period that ends on Independence Day. If you’re going to do it, do it right.

I know that Johnny Cash performed a song called Ragged Old Flag, but it was ragged because it had been through battle, not through the car wash once too often.

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