Flag Etiquette

Flag Etiquette

As a proud American, the matter of caring for the flag and treating it with due respect is an important concern. While you may know a few of the basics regarding flag etiquette, it is always a good idea to brush up on the topic every now and then to make sure you never disrespect this important emblem so many have died to protect. Here are the main things to know about flag etiquette.

1. Never let it touch the ground

This is perhaps the most well-known aspect of flag etiquette and for good reason. The flag should always be treated with respect to honor the nation and all those who gave the ultimate sacrifice to secure our way of life. When a flag touches the ground, it is a disgrace to the values and sacrifices that make our nation great.

2. Only burn the flag for proper retirement

Burning the flag is one of the more confusing aspects of flag handling. The main thing to recognize is that burning a flag in a retirement ceremony to dispose of the flag is acceptable whereas burning a flag in protest is considered a bad way to treat a flag.

3. Place the flag above all others

When flying the American flag and others alongside it such as a church flag or state flag, the national flag should be above all others. This is to signify the importance and prominence of the country over other matters such as state or religious affiliations. It is poor etiquette and disrespectful to fly any flag higher than the American flag, unless it is at the United Nations headquarters where all countries should be flown together with only the U.N. flag flying higher.

4. Only fly a flag at half-staff when ordered

If you have a personal flag pole in your yard or business, you may think it is acceptable to fly it at half-staff in the event of the passing of a loved one or other such time of hardship. It is important to note that you only fly the flag at half-staff when ordered to do so by the President. It is only used to show a sign of national mourning.

5. Salute the flag the right way

Saluting the flag is a part of flag etiquette! While we learn to salute the flag as kids in school, it is always a good thing to brush up on. When saluting the flag as a civilian, you should remove your hat and hold your hat over your heart. If you are not wearing a hat, simply place your right hand over your heart while facing the flag. The hand over the heart is important because it signifies the love you have for your country.

If you are a military member in uniform, you give the formal military salute, leaving headwear on. If you are military personnel but not in official uniform, you usually give the military salute as well. For veterans, the military salute or hand over heart salute is acceptable.