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March 1, 2002

As promised, here are some more tips on proper etiquette for displaying the U.S. flag, as furnished by the Flyrite Corporation, which makes Old Glory in a variety of sizes. More tips were contained in the Northwest Corner on February 5.

No other flag or pennant should be placed above the U.S. flag or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States. One exception to this rule: During church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, the church pennant may be flown above the U.S. flag during services for Navy personnel.

When flown at half-staff, the flag should first be hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. “Half-staff” means lowering the flag to one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff

No disrespect should ever be shown to the flag of the United States of America. Thus, the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, state flags and organizational or institutional flags are to be dipped to the U.S. flag as a mark of honor. (This comment is just a personal thing. I don’t like seeing large portions of the flag worn as clothing, but things like that are becoming more commonplace all the time. I have a wind suit which contains elements of the flag but it does not appear to have portions of an actual flag in the design. To me, that would seem disrespectful.)

The flag should never be displayed with the union down, save as a signal of the most dire distress. The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor or water.

The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free. When a U.S. flag has become discolored, frayed or torn so that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, flag etiquette prescribes that it “should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.“

The information in this condensed set of rules from Flyrite probably is correct, but I’ve noticed different interpretations are suggested by others from time to time. Any Boy Scout or a member of the local American Legion post probably can help if you have a flag that needs to be retired or if there are questions about any issue involving proper etiquette concerning the flag. If you have children, be sure to teach them how to act when the flag is being raised or lowered, when the colors pass by in a parade, or when the national anthem is played. Many youngsters apparently have not yet learned the ritual, and they need to know it, especially in the present time.