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How to care for Old Glory

Flag Etiquette

“You're a grand old flag,
You're a high flying flag
And forever in peace may you wave.
You're the emblem of
The land I love.
The home of the free and the brave...” 

As Military folk we are patriotic by nature, we see the flag as the tangible cloth that holds America together.  It flies as a tribute to all of the men and women who have served and continue to serve in our armed forces, the very people that keep our country, “free.”

As I walk around my military housing community, I am greeted by a flag that hangs at almost every door. It’s truly a neighborhood shrouded in stars and stripes.  As I walk each evening; it’s a sight that always reminds of just how great the country I live in, is.  I am, however, a little ashamed to say that only one of the flags in my neighborhood is properly illuminated in the evening hours………the one at my front door.  This sight gave me the idea for this piece, flag etiquette!

Just like everything else in the military, there are “rules of engagement” when hanging a proper flag!  Your flag should only be hung from sunrise to sunset, unless it is properly lit in the dark hours.  Our flag is illuminated from the bottom by a solar powered spot light.  It’s truly a spectacular sight.

Your flag should be taken down in bad weather, however this rule does not apply if you have an all weather flag.  Honestly though, why would you fly the symbol of American pride in the rain.  Take your flag down already; there are plenty of other gorgeous days to fly it proudly!

If you would like to display the flag on a wall or your window, either horizontally or vertically, the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the on-lookers left. 

A few years ago I walked into the kitchen of my neighbor, there on her table was a sight that made my pulse quicken and my eyes nearly pop out of my head!  She was using the American flag as a table cloth!  Ladies, please don’t use it as a table cloth, a blanket or anything else to decorate the inside of your home. It’s an ornament best left to adorn the outside of your house, anything else is just disrespectful.

Do not fly a dirty, soiled, faded or torn flag. If your flag resembles any of these words, go take it down!  Run!  According to section 8 of the Flag Code, "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."  I recommend that you contact your local VFW Chapter and ask them for help in properly disposing of your flag, or you can contact your local Elks Lodge (who created the idea of Flag Day, established officially by President Truman, himself a member of the Elks), the American Legion, or the Knights of Columbus. Some Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops also can provide this service. Do not throw it in your fireplace!!

Hang your flags high and proud, America’s watching!