Friday, May 22, 2009

Flag etiquette for Memorial Day

While many people display the U.S. Flag on a regular basis, some do so only on holidays and special days like Memorial Day, so I thought a little reminder of the etiquette for displaying our flag would be nice.

Most know that the flag is flown at half staff (it's only 'mast' on a watercraft) until noon and then raised to full-staff for the rest of the day. However, not everyone realizes that to fly a flag at half-staff you first raise it to the peak for a moment before lowering it to the half-way mark.

The Flag Code has no provisions for those of us with an angled flag pole jutting out from our house or porch and without an ability to place the flag at half staff. It is recommended that you affix a streamer of black crepe to the staff immediately below the spearhead of the U.S. flag. It should be no wider than 1 foot, but may be less wide to match the proportionality of the flag. It should be about 1-1/2 times the hoist of the fly (the shorter dimension; the height of the flag). It can be attached a with a bow-knot to the spearhead (top) of the pole, allowing the streamer to fall naturally. Alternately, you can affix black bow-knots, with or without streamers, placed at the fastening points.

Since we'll be attending many parades this weekend, remember to salute the flag as it it passes in procession by placing your hand over your heart, as you do when you pledge allegiance. Also remember that a salute is proper when raising and lowering the flag. The Flag Code says that a salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of music, which often accompanies the action, whichever is the longest.

Enjoy your Memorial Day weekend!

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