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For the American Flag Newbies: Common Questions Asked About the Flag Code

Flying the American flag is a great way to show patriotism and love for the country during these tough times. Now, more than ever, Americans need to come together and spread the true spirit of this great country. 

Before you run to the store and buy the first American flag you see, you should know all the rules involved with flying a flag. The US flag code is detailed and you could unintentionally show disrespect if you don’t abide by the regulations. 

Keep reading to discover the most important parts of the flag code you should follow. 

What Happens If a Flag Touches the Ground?

One of the biggest flag code violations is letting the American flag touch the ground. 

A flag should either fly on a flagpole or be folded and stored respectfully. If the flag touches the ground, or anything beneath it such as water, this is in violation of the flag code.  

If the flag hits the ground once or twice, merely fix the issue that caused this to happen. The only time a flag needs burned and disposed of is when the flag is no longer fit for display. If the flag becomes tattered, worn, or ripped, then you need to properly dispose of it through a flag burning ceremony.  

Is It OK to Alter the Flag’s Image?

When it comes to American flag code violations, many groups and organizations have been altering the flag’s image. When you see an American flag with a “thin blue line” or any other alteration, this is in violation of US flag code §8. 

The code states that “the flag should never have placed upon it … any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.”

When shopping for an American flag for house purposes, always go with the traditional flag. If you want to show support for any of these groups, opt for a flag not associated with the American flag. Any flag that contains the stars and stripes should identically match the traditional image of the flag. 

Should Businesses Use the American Flag?

When it comes to businesses and the American flag, it’s often encouraged that businesses display the flag. This shows support for the country and is a sign of respect. 

But, many businesses don’t realize that the American flag should never be used in their advertising campaigns. While you can display the American flag at your business, avoid including it any advertising materials as it’s often viewed as disrespectful. 

Under no circumstances should a business alter the flag for business purposes. This includes the manufacturing and selling fo the previously discussed “thin line” flags. People and businesses who alter the flag can actually be fined and charged with a misdemeanor. 

When Can the Flag be Displayed?

US flag code §6 discusses the time and occasions to properly display a flag. 

Traditionally, a flag is only to be flown from sunrise until sunset. When dusk occurs, the flag is to be taken down ceremoniously and stored until the next morning. If the flag is properly lighted throughout the evening, it is ok to display it 24 hours a day. 

But just because the flag is lit, this doesn’t mean you can fly it and forget about it. To show respect, the flag should be taken down and stored during inclement weather. There are all-weather flags that are designed to withstand extreme conditions. 

In addition, make sure you’re following the proper half-staff protocols, which are discussed later. 

Can I Display Multiple Flags?

Many US flag code violations are a result of flying multiple flags at once. There is nothing wrong with displaying other flags in addition to the American flag, but you need to make sure you’re doing it correctly. 

When using a single flag pole, the American flag should always be placed above any other flag. If you have multiple flag poles with flags displayed at the same level, the American flag needs to be placed to the right of other flags. When displaying the flag in a group of state or society flags, the American flag should be placed in the middle and flown the highest. 

You’ll also want to ensure that the American flag you’re displaying is equal to or larger than any other flags also displayed.

What Is Proper Half-Staff Procedure?

The American flag code also spells out the proper procedures for displaying the flag at half-staff. This tradition is used at times to show that the country is in a state of mourning. 

Common times when the flag is flown at half-staff are:

  • Memorial Day, 9/11, Peace Officers Memorial Day, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day and National Firefighters Memorial Day
  • After the death of a current or retired public official
  • After the death of any prominent official or foreign dignitaries
  • when a  tragic event occurs

When displaying a flag at half-mast, make sure you follow the proper procedure. Briskly bring the flag to full-mast, then slowly lower the flag to half-mast. 

Stay Patriotic by Abiding by the American Flag Code 

These are just a few of the main rules found within the US flag code. If you choose to fly a flag at your home or business, do not take this responsibility lightly.

Instead, take the time to read the full flag code and make sure other people who live or work with you also know the proper protocols. If you accidentally break flag code, do whatever it takes to make the situation right, and don’t let it happen again. Never ever intentionally disrespect the flag as this is a sign of disrespect for our country. 

Wondering how to decorate the area around your flag pole to show respect to the American flag? If so, head to the Home/Garden section of this site for some patriotic inspiration. 

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