Hollywood, MD – The legend goes that in 1885 a Wisconsin public school teacher arranged for his students to observe June 14 as “Flag Birthday.” It was on June 14, 1777 that The Stars and Stripes became the officially adopted emblem of the new nation—the United States of America. The observance by the pupils taught by BJ Cigrand was widely publicized by newspapers, magazines and public speakers, prompting Cigrand to continue the practice. Four years later a New York City kindergarten teacher planned flag ceremonies for his students and soon the entire Empire State adopted June 14 as a day to pay homage to the American Flag. While the observance of Flag Day continued to spread throughout the country over the next several decades, it wasn’t until 1949, when President Harry Truman signed an Act of Congress, that June 14 become formally designated as National Flag Day.

Here are some American Flag “etiquette” points you may or may not be aware of that are listed in The Flag Code.

The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use.

The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.

The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.

When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner. Note – Most American Legion posts regularly conduct a dignified flag burning ceremony, often on Flag Day. Many Cub Scout packs, Boy Scout troops and Girl Scout troops retire flags regularly as well.

When the American Flag is displayed from the same flagpole with another flag—state, community, society or Scout unit—the American Flag must always be at the top. The one exception—the church pennant may be flown above the American Flag during church services for Navy personnel when conducted by a Naval chaplain on a ship at sea.

When on display indoors, the American Flag is accorded the place of honor, always positioned to its own right. Place it to the right of the speaker or staging area or sanctuary. Other flags should be to the left.

When carried in a procession, the American Flag should be to the right of the marchers. When other flags are carried, the American Flag may be centered in front of the others or carried to their right. When the American Flag passes in a procession or when it is hoisted or lowered, all should face the flag and salute.
To salute the American Flag, all persons come to attention. Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute. Citizens not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over the heart and men with head cover should remove it and hold it to left shoulder, hand over heart. Members of organizations in formation salute upon command of the person in charge.

The Pledge of Allegiance should be rendered standing at attention, facing the flag and saluting.

The American Flag is to be flown at half-staff in mourning for designated, principal government leaders and upon presidential or gubernatorial order.
When used to cover a casket, the American Flag should be placed with the union at the head and over the left shoulder. It should not be lowered into the grave.

Quotes about the American Flag

They said it….

Film star and former California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger – “As long as I live, I will never forget that day when I raised my hand and took the oath of citizenship. Do you know how proud I was? I was so proud that I walked around with an American Flag around my shoulders all day long.”

Radio announcer and inspiration for “Good Morning, Vietnam, Adrian Cronauer – “The American Flag represents all of us and all the values we hold sacred.”

The late television personality, author and easy chair pitchman Art Linkletter – “I stand fearlessly for small dogs, the American Flag, motherhood and the Bible. That’s why people love me.”

Early 20th century Olympian Elizabeth Robinson Schwartz – “I can remember standing in the middle of the field after the race and seeing the American Flag raised and hearing ‘The Star Spangled Banner’ and all the people singing it. Then I walked off the field and just kind of enjoyed the feeling.”

Sixteenth U.S. President Abraham Lincoln – “Standing as I do, with my hand upon this staff and under the folds of the American Flag, I ask you to stand by me so long as I stand by it.”

Last word, Abe—Happy Flag Day, America! Wave it proudly!

Visit www.usflag.org for more information about the American Flag.

Quotes used in this essay are from the web site www.brainyquote.com

Contact Marty Madden at marty.madden@thebaynet.com