Learn about the flag

Q: What size flag is appropriate to be displayed from a flagpole?

A: The Flag Code is silent with regards to the size flag that is appropriate for different sizes of flagpoles. The rule of thumb which has been passed down through tradition and custom is the fly of the flag should be approximately one-fourth the height of the pole.

Q: When is the United States flag to be displayed?

A: The flag should be displayed on all days, especially on New Year’s Day, January 1 Inauguration Day, January 20 Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, the third Monday in January Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12 Washington’s Birthday, third Monday in February Easter Sunday (variable) Mother’s Day, second Sunday in May Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May Memorial Day (half-staff until noon), the last Monday in May Flag Day, June 14 Father’s Day, third Sunday in June Independence Day, July 4 National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, July 27 Labor Day, first Monday in September Constitution Day, September 17 Columbus Day, second Monday in October Navy Day, October 27 Veterans Day, November 11 Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November Christmas Day, December 25 and such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States the birthdays of States (date of admission) and on State holidays.

Q: Is it proper to fly the flag of the United States at night?

A: The Flag Code states that it is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flag staffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

Q: Is it permissible to fly the flag of the United States during inclement weather?

A: The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed. (All-weather – nylon, synthetic, or other non-absorbent material).

Q: Does the flag have to be destroyed if it touches the ground?

A: Care should be exercised in the handling of the flag, to protect it from becoming soiled or damaged. However, you are not required to destroy the flag if it touches the ground. As long as the flag remains suitable for display, even if washing or dry-cleaning (which is an acceptable practice) is required, the flag may continue to be displayed.

Q: Can a 48-star flag be displayed?

A: Even though the fifty-star flag is authorized, no law or provisions of the Flag Code prohibits the use or display of any previously authorized flag of the United States.

Q: What should be the position of the flag when displayed from a staff in a church, public auditorium or other public meeting place, whether indoors or outdoors, on platform or on floor or ground level?

A: When used on a speaker’s platform, the flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America, should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman’s or speaker’s right as he faces the audience. Prior to the Flag Code changes in 1976, the display procedure was somewhat different. Now the staffed flag should always be placed to the right of the speaker without regard to a platform or floor level.

Q: Is the Government required to fly the flag every day?

A: The Code suggests the flag be displayed daily on or near the main administration building of every public institution, in or near every polling place on election days and in or near every schoolhouse when school is in session.

Q: What is the proper placement of two or more United States flags in a church or auditorium?

A: Regardless of the number of United States flags, each would be displayed in accordance with Flag Code provisions. For most functions more than one flag is unnecessary. For a patriotic display as a show of color, the flags may be displayed as common sense and good taste would dictate.

Q: Is the flag to be displayed only on National holidays?

A: The Code suggests displaying the flag every day, but especially on holidays, including state holidays and during local celebrations.

Q: What governs displaying the flag of the United States in connection with the flag of the United Nations or other national or international flags?

A: No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other nation or international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence of honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States or any Territory or possession thereof: Provided, That nothing in this section shall make unlawful the continuance of the practice heretofore followed of displaying the flag of the United Nations in a position of superior prominence and honor, with that of the flag of the United States at the headquarters of the United Nations. This particular section of the Code can be confusing if not read carefully. First the term “national or international flag equal” refers to the flags of other nations, it does not imply the flags cannot be flown at the same height. If it did, then it would be in conflict with international rules which forbid the display of the flag of one nation higher than another in time of peace. Secondly, “or in place of” does not take away the right of an individual to display the flag of another country on his/her own property.

Q: May an unserviceable flag be reused or recycled?
A: No. 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.

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