Chamber Chat - Flag Etiquette

Jul 15

By Meg Moss


Since July Fourth was mid-week this year, it seems there was a full week of vacation for many businesses. Things slowed down a bit around town as folks took to the beach or the mountains for a get-away. That’s one of the great things about living in Sanford. We’re a quick jaunt to either of those destinations.


As I took my long weekend camping with family in Asheboro, we enjoyed swimming, campfires, and fireworks. And American flags were displayed everywhere. Some were respectfully displayed at the campsite lodge, while others were hanging from people’s campers, and waving in the breeze from children’s bicycles. And while I appreciate the patriotism and American pride, it did make me think about the proper etiquette for flag display.


So I thought it was worth doing a little research on proper flag etiquette, and sharing it with the readers of the Sanford Herald.


The etiquette for displaying the U.S. Flag is established by law, in US Code Title 4; Chapter 1; Sec 7 m (1) .


Here are a few things you should know when displaying the U.S. flag on private property:

  • The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat. When the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender
  • The flag of the United States of America, when it is displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the right, the flag’s own right, and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag
  • Half-staff means the flag is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff. To properly place the flag at half-staff, you should first raise the flag to the top of the staff for a moment and then lower it to half-staff.
  • The custom is to fly the U.S. flag daily from sunrise to sunset. If you would like to display it 24 hours a day, illuminate it at night.
  • When the U.S. flag is displayed on a staff from a window or balcony, the stars should be at the top of the staff unless it is at half-staff. When lowering the flag for the day after it is at half-staff, raise the flag to the top of the pole and lower it.
  • If you are draping the flag out a window or over a building, hang it vertically with the stars to the left of anyone looking at it from below.
  • When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground
  • The U.S. flag should never touch the ground, the floor, water or anything underneath it.
  • If the U.S. flag is displayed on the same pole as another flag, the U.S. flag must be on top. The U.S. flag should be the largest flag on display.

Timely enough, Sanford Area Growth Alliance CEO Joy Thrash mentioned to me just this week how much she appreciated the fact that the flags in Sanford were always properly on display for our national holidays to celebrate our country, whether it’s Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, or the Fourth of July. Whether it is a holiday, or any other day, I look forward to seeing everyone’s flags displayed with pride!

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