• Marines marching by
    There are a lot of rules and guidelines regarding the proper way to to treat and display the American flag, known as the U.S. Flag Code. While the Flag Code was only established in the 20th Century, the customs and traditions surrounding the flag date back to the 18th century. Real rules regarding the flag were not really considered until the post-Civil War period. When Civil War veterans who wanted to uphold the sacred character of the national emblem they had fought to defend, made the first efforts to restrict uses of the flag, specifically targeting commercial and political advertisements. [Smithsonian Institute]

    However, the federal government didn't finally act until 1923, when momentum for flag protections started to surge because of World War I. On June 14, 1923, the first National Flag Conference was held in Washington, D.C., to establish a set of rules for civilian flag use. This led to the creation and publication of the National Flag Code. Still, Congress didn't adopt the code until 1942, finally establishing the U.S. Flag Code.

    The writers of the code believed that the American flag “represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.” [Smithsonian Institute] It prohibits any use of the flag that could be construed as disrespectful, including using it for advertising and to decorate clothing and other goods. While the U.S. Supreme Court struck down flag-protection laws as violations of free speech in 1989, the Flag Code is still maintained as a code of etiquette, enforced not by law but by tradition.

    1st Battalion, 222d Aviation Regiment Soldiers Conduct Flag Detail!
    U.S. Army Soldiers with Company C, 1st Battalion, 222d Aviation Regiment, perform the daily flag detail June 8, 2022 at Fort Eustis, Virginia. Flag handlers ensure correct folding of the flag and ensure the flag does not touch the ground.

    The U.S. Flag Code lays out the ways to display and respect the flag of the United States. I will include those that apply to the Flag Troop and any additional information that is applicable.

    • The flag should be on display in public only from sunrise to sunset. However, the flag may be displayed at all times if it’s illuminated during darkness. 
      We display the flag only during school hours. Some schools do leave their displays out, they should be illuminated if they do so.
    • When placed on a single staff or lanyard, place the U.S. Flag above all other flags. 
      American flag on top, Arizona flag underneath.
    • The flag should not be subject to weather damage, so it should not be displayed during rain, snow and wind storms unless it is an all-weather flag. 
      Our school flags are all-weather, but we try not to display them during inclement weather. Only becaues it's tough to dry them out. We don't want to fold and store them when they're all wet.
    • It should be displayed often, but especially on national and state holidays and special occasions.
      We operate via the school schedule, so we will display the flag on some holidays, but not others.
    • The flag should be displayed on or near the main building of public institutions, schools during school days, and polling places on election days.

    Lowering ceremoniously
    Flag troop alumnists lower the American flag ceremoniously.

    • The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously. 
      The flag should be raised quickly and then lowered slowly.
    • The flag should not be used for advertising purposes, or embroidered on cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins or boxes. 
    • Only the president or the governor of a state can order the flag to half-staff, to honor a current or former government official.
      The Arizona Governor's Office has a website that I check daily, that tells if the flag will be at full-staff or at half-staff (link). If the flag is to be at half-staff, the website explains why and for how long. When flown at half-staff, the flag should be hoisted briskly to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position solemnly. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. By "half-staff" is meant lowering the flag to one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff (the flag pole).

    • When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall (or other flat surface), the union (blue field of stars) should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the observer's left. 
      Usually if the flag is displayed during an assembly or other event.
    • All persons present in uniform (military, police, fire, etc.) should render the military salute. Members of the armed forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute. 
      When military or law enforcement persons are here for the Patriots Day or Veterans Day picnics, they should render a salute if the colors (flags) are presented (if they're brought out by a color guard), or if the National Anthem is played. If the flags are already displayed prior to the event, this rule does not apply. 
    • All other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.
      Same as above, only if the colors are presented or if the National Anthem is played.
    • When stowing the flag, fold it in the tradtional manner to form a triangle. If done correcty a triangle field of blue with stars in a 1-3-5 pattern, will be viewable. 
      If a squad cannot fold it into the triangle well, they should fold the flag into a square instead. This is preferable to a sloppy triangle.

    Burial Flags
    Properly folded flags display a triangle field of blue with stars in a 1-3-5 pattern.

    And here is a list of flag etiquette don’ts:

    • Don’t dip the U.S. Flag for any person, flag, or vessel.
      Especially at the 1936 Olympics...
    • Don’t let the flag touch the ground.
      We want to avoid this at all costs, but it's not the end of the world. As long as the flag remains suitable for display, it may continue to be displayed.
    • Don’t fly flag upside down unless there is an emergency. 
      This should never happen, but has happened. So please pay attention when raising the flags and make sure and double check they are displayed properly before leaving.
    • Don’t carry the flag flat, or carry things in it.
      When carrying the folded flags, they should be held vertically against your body. With the American flag held on the outside and the Arizona flag against your body.
    • Don’t use the flag as clothing. 
      This means not to use an actual flag as clothing. Wearing an article of clothing that happens to be red, white, and blue with stars and stripes or images of the flag do not violate the flag code.
    • Don’t store the flag where it can get dirty.  
      We store our flags in the troop drawer in the front office.
    • Don’t use it as a cover. 
      If it rains, please don't use the flag as a poncho...
    • Don’t fasten it or tie it back. Always allow it to fall free. 
      As in freedom!
    • Don’t draw on, or otherwise mark the flag.
    • Don’t use the flag for decoration. Use bunting with the blue on top, then white, then red.

    A group of Clemson University faculty, staff and alumni placed flags around the school’s Scroll of Honor for Memorial Day
    IMAGE: Patriotic parade. SGT Rusell Midori. Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina. 14 March 2010.

    IMAGE: 1st Battalion, 222d Aviation Regiment Soldiers Conduct Flag Detail! SGT Rydell Tomas. U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence. Fort Eustis, VA. 8 June 2022.

    IMAGE: Burial Flags. Elizabeth Frazer. Arlington National Cemetary.

    IMAGE: Boy with American Flags. SSG Ken Scar. US Army Cadet Command. Clemson, South Carolina. 21 May 2020.