Friday, June 14, 2024

Friday Flag Day πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ

Annual flag display in Hudson, NH, from Memorial Day to Independence Day
The usual Friday Funnies have been given today off to commemorate Flag Day, today, June 14. It's not a national holiday and government offices like courthouses and United States Post Offices are open as are public offices and schools. While many Americans may be unaware of this day, others will have flags on display.

The U.S. flag that often is referred to as the Stars and Stripes was adopted on June 14, 1777 by the Continental Congress as the official American flag during the Revolutionary War. Until that time, Colonial troops fought under different flags with various symbols including rattlesnakes, pine trees, and eagles with slogans like "Don’t Tread on Me," "Liberty or Death" and "Conquer or Die" to name some.

The Flag Resolution of 1777 stated: "Resolved: that the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation."

Interestingly, it wasn't an American who labelled the U.S. as the Stars and Stripes. That credit was given to a French nobleman and military officer, the marquis de Lafayette, who volunteered his aid to the Continental Army led by General George Washington.

Did you know that . . .
There's an entire vocabulary of terms associated with flags?

Vexillology is the study of the history, symbolism and usage of flags or, by extension, any interest in flags in general. Someone who studies flags is a vexillologist, one who designs flags is a vexillographer, and the art of designing flags is called vexillography. A hobbyist or general admirer of flags is known as a vexillophile.

Dr. Whitney Smith
That terminology is due to a New Englander fascinated by flags from his childhood. The term, vexillology, was coined by a Massachusetts teenager in 1957. Whitney Smith, Jr combined the Latin word vexillum (a kind of square flag that was carried by Roman cavalry) with the Greek suffix logia (the study of) and coined vexillology. In 1961, he co-wrote The Flag Bulletin, the world's first journal about flags. The following year, he established The Flag Research Center at his home serving as its director.

Dr. Smith, a Harvard graduate, who later taught political science at Boston University, credited his interest in flags to youthful memories of Massachusetts Patriots' Day celebrations (unique to his home state). Later, turning his childhood passion with flags into a scholarly discipline. Dr. Smith became the preeminent scholar on the history, symbolism, and significance of flags amassing newspaper articles, flag-related publications and flags. Over time, this collection of documents and tens of thousands of books, pamphlets, engravings, electronic files, and flag-related artifacts was the largest in the world. 

Dr Smith died in 1976 from complications of Alzheimer's disease. The Whitney Smith Flag Research Center Collection is now housed at The Dolph Briscoe Center for American History at The University of Texas at Austin. It is now the world’s oldest institution dedicated to interdisciplinary research initiatives on all aspects of flags, flag histories and flag usage.

When asked why flags should be taken seriously, Dr. Smith’s standard reply was: "People kill for flags. People die for flags. It is incumbent on us to try to understand how a piece of cloth can incarnate that power."

So, today on Flag Day in memory of a New Englander who felt so strongly about all flags, this post has many facts that apply specifically to the U.S. flag.
Street art mural in Nashua, NH
The U.S. Flag Code
On June 22, 1942, Congress passed a joint resolution amended in December 1942, that has come to be known as the U.S. Flag Code, a federal law that sets forth guidelines for the appearance and display of the U.S. flag by private citizens. These guidelines specify times and conditions for display of the flag, manners and methods of display, and buildings where such display should occur.

What's seen as the most important guideline involves how U.S. citizens should behave around the flag. For example, members of the armed services and veterans are asked to stand at attention and salute when the flag is passing in a parade or being hoisted or lowered; civilians should place their right hand over their hearts.

The flag should never touch anything beneath it, like the ground, floor, water or merchandise. The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free. It should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding or drapery, too often it has been used for these purposes.

Violating the flag code isn't illegal even though the U.S. Flag Code is a federal law. Guidelines are only stated within the voluntary and non-binding language such as, "should" and "custom," meaning there is no penalty for violating any of its provisions.
General Guidelines for Displaying the Flag
  • When the flag is hung vertically on a wall, window, or door, the union (blue section) should be to the observer’s left. When the flag is hung horizontally or vertically against a wall, the Union should be to the observer’s left.
  • In a procession, the American flag should be to the right (the flag’s own right) of any other flag or, if in a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.
  • When displayed from a staff from a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff.
  • When the flag is displayed otherwise than by being flown from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out; or so suspended that its folds fall as freely as though the flag were staffed.
  • 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.
  • On a platform, the flag should be above and behind the speaker, with the union uppermost and to the observer’s left.
  • When displayed from a staff in a church or auditorium, the flag should occupy the position of honor and be placed at the speaker’s right as he/she faces the audience.
  • When the flag covers a casket, the union should be at the head and over the left shoulder.
When to Display the Flag
As a symbol of respect, honor, and patriotism, the flag can be displayed any day of the year according to the following guidelines. The custom is to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on flagstaffs in the open; however, if illuminated, it can be displayed at night. It should not be displayed in inclement weather. The flag should be displayed every day, especially:
  • New Year’s Day, January 1; Inauguration Day; Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday
  • Lincoln and Washington's birthdays; National Vietnam War Veterans Day, March 29
  • Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter Sunday; Mother’s Day and Father's Day
  • Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day (half-staff until noon)
  • Flag Day, June 14; Independence Day, July 4
  • National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, July 27
  • Labor Day, first Monday in September; Constitution Day, September 17
  • Indigenous Peoples’ Day/Columbus Day, second Monday in October
  • Navy Day, October 27; Veterans Day, November 11
  • Birthdays of states (date of admission); state holidays
  • Other days as proclaimed by the President of the United States
Also, the flag should be displayed at every public institution, in or near every polling place on election days, and at schoolhouses during school days.
“America’s Tall Ship” the USCGC Eagle is the largest tall ship flying the Stars and Stripes 

Displaying the U.S. Flag Alongside Other Flags
  • In the U.S., no other flag should be placed above the American flag or, if placed on the same level, to the right of the American flag.
  • The United Nations flag may not be displayed above or in a position of superior prominence to the U.S. flag, except at the United Nations Headquarters.
  • The flag, when displayed with another against a wall should be on the right (the flag’s own right), and its staff should be in front of the other staff.
  • The American flag should be at the center and the highest point when displayed with a group of state flags.
  • When flags of states, cities, etc., are flown on the same halyard, the American flag should be at its peak.
  • When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height, and the American flag should be hoisted first and lowered last.
Some U.S. Flag No-Nos
  • The flag should not be dipped to anyone, including government officials or the President.
  • The flag should never be displayed with union (stars) down, unless as a signal of dire distress.
  • The flag should never touch anything beneath it: the ground, floor, water or merchandise.
  • The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, always aloft and free.
  • The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored so that it might be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
  • The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
  • The flag should never have anything placed on it.
  • The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose, nor embroidered on cushions or handkerchiefs, printed on paper napkins or boxes or used as any portion of a costume.

How to Properly Dispose of an American Flag
  • If the U.S. flag does touch the ground, it does not need to be disposed of (this is a myth) just ensure the flag is washed or dry-cleaned.
  • When the flag is in torn or in a condition no longer fitting its status, it should be destroyed in a dignified and ceremonious fashion, preferably by burning.
  • Most American Legion posts will conduct an annual ceremony, often on Flag Day to retire old or worn flags. Contact your local chapter if unable to dispose of the flag yourself. Boy Scout or Girl Scout groups also might have information about retiring a flag.
Admittedly, I didn't know a lot about flag etiquette (very little) before doing this post. Even though I am not a native of New England, it was that connection with Dr. Smith that led to this post. 
Enjoy Your Weekend, Everyone
Happy Father's Day to fathers stepfather, grandfathers and others
and in memory of our fathers as well


David M. Gascoigne, said...

I am not a big fan of displaying flags and all the patriotic fervour that goes with it. It is so often the prelude to jingoism, xenophobia and oppression. Think only of Nazi Germany.

Bijoux said...

That’s a lot of rules and I can see why it would be difficult to follow all of them. We fly a flag all summer.

Tom said...

...few if any understand flag etiquette.

Anvilcloud said...

Well I didn't read all of that, but Happy Flag Day.

My name is Erika. said...

This is really interesting. I remember learning all these flag "rules" back as kid in Girl Scouts, and many of them came back to me as I read this. Thanks for the reminder there. And the other info was fun to learn. Happy Flag Day.

gigi-hawaii said...

There's a house down my street that has a flag on a pole in the front yard. I am not sure if he takes it down at night. It's there rain or shine.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

David G, I appreciate your comment and respect your opinion. However, on our recent trip through parts of Canada, we noticed that there were numerous Canadian flags on display in front yards. Apparently, a number of your fellow residents feel differently.

Kathy G said...

Thanks for your post. I knew most of the regulations, but I'm glad to have learned more.

Rita said...

I did not know the vocabulary of flags. Knew several of the rules, but not all of them. Happy Flag Day! :)

Marie Smith said...

One thing that is important is that we are free to fly a flag if we want to or not.

Linda P said...

This is very interesting. I have learnt a lot from this blog post about the rules regarding handling or displaying a flag. In my opinion we should honour and respect our national flags. Greetings and may you have a Happy Flag Day.

Emma Springfield said...

Thank you for this. My father revered our flag. He taught us all to properly display the flag. We also learned to fold it. We were also taught that the flag should not be displayed in the dark.

Pamela M. Steiner said...

We put out our flag every day at sunsrise on a pole attached to our front porch. If the weather become inclement, we bring it inside. We always take it down at sunset, and I am always careful not to touch the ground with it. We replace our flags when they become too faded and/or torn. However we don't usually burn our old flags. I guess we should. I learned how to care for a flag when I was a Girl Scout, and it has always been very special to me to honor our flag. It grieves me that many schools no longer have the Pledge of Allegiance recited in school at the beginning of each day. Children are not being taught how important our flag is and how it stands for our country's freedom and all those who have fought to make and keep our country free. And so you see what is happening in Washington DC and around the country with the desecration of our flag and other important monuments, being taken over with those who are protesting on behalf of a terrorist group in another country who is trying to destroy Israel and also crying death to America. It is a very sad state of affairs in our nation.. Praying for our country every day.

Ginny Hartzler said...

You really did your research! I did not know most of this. And I didn't even know that today is Flag Day! I love your photos, especially the one with the Eagle in front of the flag!

Lowcarb team member said...

That was an interesting read.
Happy Flag day.

All the best Jan

Marcia said...

I'd forgotten today was Flag Day.

Barwitzki said...

Many greetings to you. I wish you a happy weekend.
It was very interesting to read about flag etiquette. Thank you very much.

diane b said...

A well researched post. We are proud of our flag too, which also has rules. I'm going to be cheeky here and say I enjoy seeing our flag fly higher than yours when we win a race in the Olympic games.

David M. Gascoigne, said...

I was expressing my belief, Dorothy, not passing judgement on my fellow Canadians and the flag-displaying proclivities of some. In general, however, I think that as a nation we are not given to flag waving. Having seen your comment yesterday I made it a point to note the number of flags I saw when out and about. I saw two - one at a shopping mall and the second on a flagpole in front of a farm. In my entire suburban neighbourhood I saw not even one. And that’s a good thing in my book!

nick said...

Well, of course here in Northern Ireland our flags have an entirely different meaning and function. The Union Jack is displayed to indicate that we're part of the UK, and we don't want to be part of the Republic of Ireland. Or the tricolour is displayed (on a much smaller scale) to indicate that we support the Republic and want a united Ireland. So we've got quite a few amateur vexillographers! And we could do with our own Flag Code to stipulate where and when and how state flags can be displayed, as the present situation is somewhat anarchic.

DUTA said...

Although, I personally don't display any flag, I wish to stress the fact that I respect all flags just as I respect all faiths. I would never dare vandalize a flag, even if there's something about it that hurts my beliefs.

kathyinozarks said...

awesome post-thank you

Rob Lenihan said...


I swear every time I read your posts my head gets crammed with all sorts of fascinating facts.

I really appreciate all your efforts in putting these posts together.

Dr. Smith sounds like a brilliant man and I like that quote about the important of flags. People do kill and die for flags.

And thanks for those wonderful Father's Day photos.

Carola Bartz said...

As immigrants we made ourselves familiar with the "flag rules". I have to say though that we are not big fans of flag waving. When you grew up in Germany in all those decades after the war, you developed a natural dislike to this practice. Unfortunately, there are worrisome tendencies in Germany again. We personally fly the US flag on those national holidays (including Flag Day), but otherwise we fly the rainbow California Republic flag all year.