Photo: Christopher Bender (Shutterstock)
With many American flags proudly displayed for Memorial Day today, it’s a good time to take a look at how to properly display, store, and dispose of Old Glory. For all rules and regulations, we turn to the Veterans of the Foreign Wars (VFW) for guidance. Here’s what to know.
How to display the American flag
It’s not just about hanging the flag out of a window and ending the day. Here are the rules for viewing:
- In the same staff: US flag on top, over every other flag.
- Grouped: The US flag goes by itself. Flags of other nations are flown at the same height.
- On the speaker platform: In the case of a presentation with a speaker’s platform, it must be above and behind the speaker. When mounted on a pole, it is to the right of the speaker.
- Decoration: Never use the flag for decoration. Use pennants with the blue on top, then white, then red.
- Half staff: On special days, the flag can be hoisted with half employees. On Memorial Day it will be flown with a half-staff until noon and then powered up.
Other rules for displaying and broadcasting the flag
- Don’t let the flag touch the ground.
- Do not fly the flag upside down unless there is an emergency.
- Do not carry the flag flat or carry objects in it.
- Do not use the flag as clothing.
- Do not keep the flag where it can get dirty.
- Do not use it as a cover.
- Do not fasten or tie it back. Always let it fall free.
- Do not draw on the flag or otherwise mark it.
How to properly fold an American flag
The VFW website has pictures if you’re more of a visual learner, but their instructions are as follows:
- Fold the lower striped part of the flag over the blue field.
- The folded edge is then folded over to meet the open edge.
- A triangular fold is then started by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to the open edge.
- The outer tip is then turned inward parallel to the open edge to form a second triangle.
- The triangle fold continues until the entire length of the flag is folded into the triangle shape with only the blue box visible.
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How to Dispose of an American Flag
If you are unsure how or when to dispose of a flag, you can always Contact your local VFW post for more informations. But here are the basic instructions:
- The flag should be folded as usual.
- It is important that the fire is fairly large and of sufficient intensity to allow the flag to burn completely.
- Put the flag on the fire.
- The person (s) can become attentive, salute the flag, recite the pledge of allegiance and have a short period of quiet reflection.
- After the flag is completely consumed, the fire should then be safely extinguished and the ashes buried.
- Please ensure that you are complying with local / state fire regulations or ordinances.