Proper Flag Etiquette for Flag Day & Flag Week
This Thursday, June 14th marks National Flag Day, a day that commemorates the adoption of the U.S. Flag back in 1777. Last year, President Obama extended the Flag Day festivities to Flag Week, saying in a press release on WhiteHouse.gov:
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim June 14, 2011, as Flag Day and the week beginning June 12, 2011, as National Flag Week… I urge all Americans to observe Flag Day and National Flag Week by displaying the flag…[and] to observe with pride and all due ceremony those days from Flag Day through Independence Day…as a time to honor America, to celebrate our heritage in public gatherings and activities, and to publicly recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America.
On June 14, 1777, the Second Constitutional Congress adopted the first United States flag which included thirteen stripes and thirteen stars to represent our Nation, one star for each of our founding colonies. There was no standard to how the stars would be arranged, so there are multiple versions, including these:
In order to properly celebrate Flag Day and Flag Week, there are some important etiquette tips you’ll need to know to fly your flag in the most honorable and respectful way. USflag.org explains:
Displaying the Flag Outdoors
The flag should always be flown at the top of a flag pole, unless being flown purposefully at half staff. When it is displayed from the same flagpole with another flag – of a state, community, society or Scout unit – the flag of the United States must always be at the top.
When the flag is displayed over a street, it should be hung vertically, with the union to the north or east. If the flag is suspended over a sidewalk, the flag’s union should be farthest from the building.
When flown with flags of states, communities, or societies on separate flag poles which are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor – to its own right. The other flags may be smaller but none may be larger.
The flag of the United States is always the first flag raised and the last to be lowered.
Raising and Lowering the Flag
To salute, all persons come to attention. Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute. Citizens not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over the heart and men with head cover should remove it and hold it to left shoulder, hand over the heart. Members of organizations in formation salute upon command of the person in charge.
The Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem
The pledge of allegiance should be rendered by standing at attention, facing the flag, and saluting. When the national anthem is played or sung, citizens should stand at attention and salute at the first note and hold the salute through the last note. The salute is directed to the flag, if displayed, otherwise to the music.