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Flag Day: Do You Know How to Fly the American Flag?

Here's a flag displayed in the vertical fashion. Bonus question: Is this correct? / Photo credit: L.A. Chung
Here's a flag displayed in the vertical fashion. Bonus question: Is this correct? / Photo credit: L.A. Chung
Written by Jennifer Squires 

Flag Day, a patriotic but often under-appreciated holiday, is Friday, June
14.

Expect to see more flags that usual out in Los Altos and consider pausing a moment to remember those who have served in the military.

Flag Day's origins date back to a celebration in Hanford, CT, in 1861. Two presidents, Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge, issued proclamations for June 14 to be observed as Flag Day but it wasn't until August 1949 that President Harry S. Truman proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day, a national day of observance.

Since then the President proclaims the commemoration yearly—President Barack Obama did so last week—and encourages all Americans in the country to display the Stars and Stripes outside their homes and businesses.

Individual states determine how they will observe the day, including if flags should be flown at half-staff.

If you're going to fly a flag, take note of the rules. Federal law stipulates many aspects of flag etiquette.

The section of law dealing with American flag etiquette is generally referred to as the Flag Code. Some general guidelines from the Flag Code answer many of the most common questions:
  • The flag should be lighted at all times, either by sunlight or by an appropriate light source. Take down the flag at sunset if you cannot light it.
  • The flag should be flown in fair weather unless the flag is designed for inclement weather use.
  • The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
  • The flag should not be used for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes.
  • The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
  • The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use.
  • Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard.
  • The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fire fighter, police officer and members of patriotic organizations.
  • The flag should never have any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind placed on it or attached to it.
  • The flag should never be used for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
  • When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms.
  • To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously. The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.
  • When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.
Here's a bonus for you: Patch recently took pictures of the American flag on display in front of local homes. 

Do you know which way the blue field of stars should go when the flag is displayed vertically? 

Put your answers in the comments. (Hey, and no fair searching on the Internet!)

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