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Learn to Practice Proper Flag Etiquette

Flags on North First street car lot illuminated by parking lot lights
Photo by: Rudy Fernandez

As July 4th nears, many of us will be flying Old Glory high and proud. With that, comes the responsibility and respect for our flag. There are laws that govern how and when the Stars and Stripes can be flown. I have noticed that many Abilene businesses fly the American flag all year-round, not just on holidays. Some of these local businesses are actually in violation of flag laws and lack flag etiquette, and probably don’t know it.

There are Federal laws that govern flag etiquette. The section of the law that deals with American Flag etiquette, is referred to as the Flag Code. The basic Flag Code guidelines, are what I’ve noticed some businesses are violating.

The most obvious one is the flying of the flag at night without being illuminated. Another is, the flags that are weathered, tattered and torn. Yet another is, those businesses that hung the American and Texas flags, as if to decorate their parking lots. Finally, the businesses that have closed and left Old Glory to fend for herself (I found many examples of the later).

Here are some of the guidelines set forth by the Flag Code:

  • The flag should be lighted at all times, either by sunlight or by an appropriate light source.
  • The flag should be flown in fair weather, unless the flag is designed for inclement weather use.
  • The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
  • The flag should not be used for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
  • The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard.
  • The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
  • The flag should never have any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind placed on it, or attached to it.
  • The flag should never be used for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
  • When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; 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 a flag 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. (If you have a flag that needs to be destroyed contact our local Texas Trails Council of Scouting. The local boy scout chapter practices the honorable way to dispose of a flag.)

source: USA Flag Site

This July 4th fly your flag with pride, knowing that many American soldiers have given themselves to defend our freedoms and way of life in America.

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