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History and Proper Display of the American Flag

front porch colonial house displaying american flagThe American Flag is viewed as a symbol of freedom, liberty, and human rights, but did you know that the current design is the 27th?  It’s been modified officially 26 times since 1777, most recently by president Eisenhower in 1959 (officially adopted in 1960) with its current 50-star design.  The current design is the longest tenured, having been in use for over 58 years.

As a symbol of the country and its people, there are several guidelines for displaying and disposal of the flag.  With Veteran’s Day just around the corner, it seemed appropriate to show the proper etiquette for those wishing to display Old Glory.

  • When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a building, the Union (blue section) should always be at the peak of the staff. 
  • When displayed on a pole, the Union should be at the peak of the pole, whether indoors or out - unless it is a time of distress.  In this instance, the flag is hung upside down so that the Union is at the bottom.
  • When hung on a flat surface such as a wall or door, the Union should be to the observer’s left.  If displayed on a platform, it should be displayed above and behind the speaker, with the Union at the top, to the observer’s left.
  • When displayed over a street, the flag should be suspended vertically with the Union to the north on an east-west street, or to the east on a north-south street.
  • When used to cover a casket, the Union should be at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased.

There are times when a flag must be disposed of.  If it’s not in good condition, worn by weather, tattered, or otherwise threadbare, it should be destroyed in a dignified way in a ceremonious manner.  The American Legion holds an annual ceremony to retire old or worn flags and accept flags for disposal at local chapters.  You can find your local chapter, as well as purchase a new flag and get more information about proper care, folding and code of display  by visiting their website at https://www.legion.org. 

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