Flag Etiquette

Flag Etiquette

By Erin Hevern

Whether it’s waving high for all to see at your favorite sports venue or outside your home, the American flag is a symbol of our freedoms, our liberties and more.
You give it a salute, or you place your hand over your heart during ceremonies, but are you honoring Old Glory properly the rest of the year?

With Independence Day approaching, it’s important to shift focus – from your red, white and blue themed picnic – to how to properly honor our stars and stripes.



A coworker of mine, Louann Lucas, who for 16 years has been a district advancement committee member for the Boy Scouts organization in Southwest Florida, is passionate about how to properly raise and lower the flag, how to display it and how to retire a flag.

“We have a duty to God and our country,” Lucas told me. “It’s a symbol of a living nation. It’s not just a piece of fabric.” Throughout their Boy Scout journey, the boys learn that, too, earning belt loops, pins or merit badges along the way – when they’ve learned how to maintain a flag or fold it properly.
So, what should you do to raise and lower the flag for July 4?

It should be done by two people, Lucas said. The United States Flag Code agrees, while instructing also to raise the flag briskly and lower it ceremoniously. The flag should be saluted as it is raised and also as it is lowered. If the flag remains up 24/7, it should be illuminated at night.

Additional tips when displaying the American flag:
• The flag should never touch the floor.
• When flown with other flags, the American flag should be the largest, flown above the other flags and should be the first flag raised and the first lowered. It should also be in a position of honor – to its own right, according to the U.S. Flag Code.
• The flag should never be flown upside down, except to signal an emergency and never flown in inclement weather.
• Upon putting the flag away, it should be folded properly, never wadded or just tossed aside.

For Lucas, retiring a flag – which comes with its own set of customs – still gives her goosebumps. Most Girl Scout, Cub or Boy Scout groups will perform a dignified flag burning ceremony on Flag Day. Anyone present will salute upon the flag’s entry into the fire, she said, and it will need to burn until it’s completely gone.

Erin Hevern, a native of Alexandria, loves all things made in America and is a sales/marketing professional in Southwest Florida.


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