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Proper Flag Etiquette for 4th of July

As 4th of July approaches, many people will be decorating with the Stars & Stripes to show their patriotism and appreciation for the freedoms we all enjoy. These sentiments are especially prevalent here in DC area, where we are surrounded by the history and the collective memories of our birth and growth as a nation.

However, unless you have spent time in a government role or in the military, you may not be aware that there are certain etiquette rules for displaying the most recognizable symbol of our country – the American Flag.

These rules are not mandatory for civilians, but they represent the best practices for showing respect, proper care, and appropriate retirement of deteriorating flags.  The official flag code can be found here or in a report to Congress compiled by the Congressional Research Service.

Display of the Flag

  • The flag should be displayed from sunrise to sunset, on a stationary staff. Flags should only be left on the pole 24 hours/day if the flag is illuminated by a light source.
  • The Union (which is the blue area with the stars) should be at the peak of the staff when displayed horizontally from a window sill. If displayed against a wall or window, the Union should be at the top and to the left of the observer.
  • Don’t display the flag with the Union side down. This should ONLY be done as a sign of distress, such as to signal danger to life and/or property.
  • Finials are ok. There is nothing in the Flag Code that prohibits them.
  • Don’t use flags with fringe outdoors. These should only be used indoors, because the fringe deteriorates quickly in the elements.
  • If displaying the flag on a car, the staff holding the flag should be attached to the right fender or to the chassis.
  • Don’t fly the flag in bad weather, unless you have a specially made one flag for all-season use (usually nylon or other durable fiber).

Source: Galveston News. Click Here for Printable PDF.


Respect for the Flag

  • The flag should not be draped over vehicles (although flying from a staff attached to the vehicle is allowed – see above). This includes cars, trains, or boats.
  • The flag, or any part of the flag, should not be used on athletic apparel or uniforms.
  • The flag should not be used for clothing, bedding, curtains, etc.
  • The flag should not be used to cover the ceiling.
  • No mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing should be superimposed on a flag.
  • The flag should not be used to carry, hold, or deliver items.
  • The flag should not be used for advertising, and the staff used to display the flag should never hold advertising signs. .
  • Anything that will be discarded in the trash should not be decorated with the flag – which includes napkins, boxes, cushions, etc. This includes embroidery, printing or embossing of items that will be later thrown away.

Additional Flag Etiquette

  • Flags that are no longer suitable for display (frayed, tattered, torn, etc.), should be disposed of respectfully, preferably by burning, per U.S. Code, Title 36, Section 176k, Respect for Flag.
  • When used on a float in a parade, it should only be displayed from a staff.
  • Flag patches may only be worn on the uniforms of military personnel, firefighters, police officers, and members of patriotic organizations.
  • A lapel flag pin should be worn on the left lapel, near the heart.
  • The flag should not be allowed to touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, floor, water, or merchandise.
  • When carrying the flag, it should always be aloft and floating free, never flat or horizontal.
  • The flag should always be protected. It should not be displayed or stored in a way that will allow the flag to be torn, soiled, or damaged.

Important Flag Dates

You can display your flag every day if you wish (and you are encouraged to do so). However, below are important dates when flags should be displayed by citizens (if they own one):

  • New Year’s Day, January 1
  • Inauguration Day, January 20
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day, third Monday in January
  • Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12
  • Washington’s Birthday/President’s Day, third Monday in February
  • Easter Sunday
  • Mother’s Day, second Sunday in May
  • Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May
  • Memorial Day (half-staff until noon), last Monday in May
  • Flag Day, June 14
  • Independence Day, July 4
  • 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

We hope you all enjoy a safe and wonderful 4th! We are thankful for our freedom and the sacrifices of our military men and women who make it possible. When it is time to sell or buy a home, having a local team you can rely on will make the process a smooth one. Call the Realtors® who love where they live and understand the local real estate market. ADMC Realty Group happily serves the communities in and around the Washington DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia areas. From start to finish, we’re here to help with all your Real estate needs. Give us a call at (202)596-8101 or email us at [email protected].

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