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Memorial Day 2019: How to display the US flag; guidelines for flying Old Glory on Memorial Day

American flags decorate the headstones of service members (Mate 2nd Daniel J. McLain, U.S. Navy/WikiCommons)

Memorial Day is Monday, May 27 and many people fly American flags to honor those who sacrificed their lives in defense of our freedoms.

There are standards for honoring, flying and displaying the U.S. flag, including a special provision for Memorial Day.

According to the Federal Flag Code, here are the guidelines:

Traditionally, flags are flown from sunrise to sunset if displayed in public. If flown at night, the flag should be clearly illuminated.

When displayed from a staff projecting from a building, the flag’s union (its blue section) should be at the peak of the staff.

When hung on a wall, window or door, the flag’s union should be to the observer’s left.

In a procession, the American flag should be to the right of any other flag or, if in a line of other flags, in front of the center of the line. When displayed over a street, the flag should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street, or to the east in a north and south street.

The U.S. flag is traditionally flown at half staff to indicate periods of mourning. There is a special rule for Memorial Day, however. On Memorial Day, the flag should be flown at half staff from sunrise until noon, then raised briskly to the top of the staff until sunset in honor of the nation’s battle heroes.

There is a process for flying a flag at half-staff. First, the flag should be hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to a half-staff position. It should again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. Half-staff is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff.

A flag is flown on a staff on land. If flown on a ship, the correct term is “mast.”

A flag should be displayed on a vehicle unless flown from a staff or antenna. It should not be draped over the hood, top, sides of back of a vehicle.

The flag should never be pulled back or displayed with folds. If using as decoration, you should use bunting.

No other flag should be placed above the American flag or, if they are to be placed on the same level, all other banners should be placed to the right of the American flag.

The American flag should be at the center and the highest point when displayed with a group of state flags.

Military personnel have regulations for saluting the flag. Among civilians, men should remove their hats and hold it at left shoulder with hand over heart. If they are not wearing a hat, they should place their right hand, palm open, over their heart. Women should place their open right hand over their heart.

Did you know?

The flag’s 13 alternating red and white stripes represent the 13 original colonies. Its 50 white stars on a blue field represent the 50 states.

Flag colors represent:

Red: valor and bravery

White: purity and innocence

Blue: vigilance, perseverance, and justice


© 2019 Alabama Media Group, Birmingham

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.