10 Jun 2014

Flag Day, June 14th: The Symbolism & Code of the American Flag

0 Comment

We just commemorated Memorial Day a couple of weeks ago – American flags were flown in celebration. Just a couple of weeks prior, we had Armed Forces Day – US flags were an integral part of the ceremonies. Veterans Day’s in November initiates war veterans and many other Americans to hang the national flag on their homes and elsewhere. And what’s just ahead? July 4th – certainly the epitome of the American Flag raised and displayed on all kinds of paraphernalia – the red, white, and blue literally and figuratively fireworked all over. So, why, nestled just between Memorial Day and Independence Day, do we need a specific day to focus on the American flag? Why, specifically, is there a dedicated Flag Day?

It’s all about focusing on the symbol, and proclaiming the honor due to a modern country’s primary symbol – its flag. The United States respect for its flag is exemplified in particular, given the Federal US Flag Code, now embedded in tradition. (To be sure, failure to comply is not a crime – in fact, the Supreme Court ruled that requiring compliance is equated with infringement of freedom of speech.) Nonetheless, government agencies and the general public do abide by several of the Code’s advisory etiquette guidelines. Simply put, the US Flag Code spells out how to treat the American flag by specifying how it to display it, fold it, repair it, and discard it when necessary.

Here are few ordinances from the US Flag Code, some of which may be surprising:

  • On Memorial Day, the flag is displayed at half-staff from sunrise until noon and at full staff from noon to sunset.
  • The flag should never be displayed with the union (the starred blue union in the Canton) down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
  • The flag should never be drawn back or bunched up in any way.
  • The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.[7]
  • 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.
  • When the flag is displayed over a street, it should be hung vertically, with the union to the north or east. If the street runs north-south, the stars should face east. For streets running east-west, the stars should face north. If the flag is suspended over a sidewalk, the flag’s union should be farthest from the building and the stars facing away from it.
  • Ordinarily it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset, although the Flag Code permits night time display “when a patriotic effect is desired” and the flag is illuminated.[16]Similarly, the flag should be displayed only when the weather is fair, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.[17]

So gear up for Flag Day, attributing all the glory, honor and respect for the American flag that it’s due.  Flag Day is a superior reason to carve out time to honor the symbol of the US as a nation.

PS Just for fun, here’s a trivia question: How many American flags fly on the moon? The answer is five!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *