How To Properly Display The American Flag

By on January 16, 2013

Every few years the American Congress gets themselves in an uproar over the issue of whether or not burning the American flag should be prohibited by a Constitutional amendment. While the merits of that amendment are debatable, many proponents of the amendment are themselves guilty of regular and egregious violations of the United States Flag Code.

If you’re not familiar with it, the Flag Code is a set of regulations governing exactly how, where and when the American flag should be displayed. Introduced in 1923 by the American Legion, the Flag is the final word on the proper care and treatment of Old Glory. Unfortunately, many so-called “patriots” are so busy telling other people what they should be doing with the flag, that they’re often in violation of the code themselves.

One of the most common Flag Code violations is the use of the flag in advertising. The Code states explicitly, “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.” That means that all those 4th of July decorations and picnic supplies we use every summer are strictly prohibited under the code.

Another common violation is the use of the flag in costumes and clothing that are not military uniforms. The sole exception to this rule is the use of a small flag patch. This is why we see flag patches on football, police and fire uniforms. But what about all those American flag shirts and accessories you see when browsing at an online flag shop? Those are violations as well.

Of course most of the Flag Code is centered on the proper display and handling of the American Flag. For those folks who were never Boy Scouts, some of these rules may come as a surprise. For example, did you know that the American Flag is always supposed to be displayed above all other national and decorative flags? It’s true.

We strongly urge every American to take a few minutes to learn about the proper care and handling of our nation’s most prominent symbol. It may sound quaint and old fashioned, but showing some respect for the flag is a simple act that can help bring our splintered nation together. And, let’s not forget, showing respect for the flag is also a way of showing respect to the many men and women who sacrificed their lives in the service of the United States of America.

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Chuck Komar writes about culture and history.

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