Flag Etiquette: Respect for the U.S. Flag

Abigail Gutjahr

The following is the fourth in a series of articles sponsored by American Legion Post 100 in Union on the proper etiquette towards the U.S. Flag. The information comes from U.S. Code Title 4, also known as “The Flag Code.” This week’s installment describes the appropriate position and manner for display of the U.S. Flag.

Section 8: No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.

(a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

(b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.

(c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.

(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free.

Bunting of blue, white, and red always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.

(e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

(f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.

(g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

(h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkin or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.

(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.

(k) 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. (Disposal of Unserviceable Flags Ceremony)

Post 100 and the local JROTC Maverick Battalion are collecting unserviceable U.S. Flags for a respectful retirement ceremony scheduled for 17 May 2022. Citizens wishing to turn in their unserviceable U.S. Flags may mail or bring them to James Monroe High School, c/o JROTC, at 142 James Monroe Drive, Lindside, WV 24951. Post 100 is working towards placing a drop box in Union in the near future. Contact Scott Womack via email at [email protected] or via Facebook Messenger, or call Todd Longancre or Mike Wiley at the JROTC office at 304-753-6906 to arrange a drop-off of your unserviceable U.S. Flag.