Q: Since Memorial Day is almost here, can you remind your readers the proper way to fly the flag on Memorial Day?
Answer: On Memorial Day, which is Monday, the flag is displayed at half-staff until noon and at full staff from noon to sunset. Here are some guidelines for the proper display of the U.S. flag:
- Traditional guidelines call for displaying the flag in public only from sunrise to sunset. However, the flag may be displayed at all times if it is illuminated during darkness.
- The flag should not be subjected to weather damage.
- The flag should be displayed often, but especially on national and state holidays and special occasions.
- The flag should be displayed on or near the main building of public institutions, schools during school days, and polling places on election days. It should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
- When displayed with another flag against a wall with crossed staffs, the U.S. flag should be on its own right (left to a person facing the wall) and its staff should be in front of the other person’s staff. In a group of flags displayed from staffs, it should be at the center and the highest point compared with flags of states or localities.
- If the flag is displayed vertically on a wall or in a window, the canton (field of stars) should be to the left of anyone looking at the flag from the outside. When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the canton is at the head and over the left shoulder.
- The flag should not be lowered into the grave.
- When the flag is lowered, it should be received by waiting hands and arms.
- To store the flag, it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
- The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary. When it is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner. Local Boy Scout troops and American Legion posts can help with proper flag disposal.
Things not to do
with the flag
- Do not dip it for any person or thing (though state flags, regimental colors and other flags may be dipped as a mark of honor).
- Do not display it with the canton down, except as a sign of distress.
- Do not let the flag touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, floor or water.
- Do not carry it horizontally, but always aloft.
- Do not fasten or display it in a way that will let it be damaged or soiled.
- Do not place anything on the flag, including letters, insignia or designs.
- Do not use it for holding anything.
- Do not use the flag for wearing apparel, bedding or drapery, or use it on a costume or athletic uniform. Bear in mind this refers to the actual flag, not clothing that has a flag-like design on it.
“Unless an article of clothing is made from an actual United States flag, there is NO breach of flag etiquette whatsoever,” according to the American Legion. “People are simply expressing their patriotism and love of country by wearing an article of clothing that happens to be red, white and blue with stars and stripes. There is nothing illegal about the wearing or use of these items.”