How To Treat American Flag

How To Treat American Flag

Honoring the Star-Spangled Banner: A Comprehensive Guide to the Care and Treatment of the American Flag

The American flag, an enduring symbol of freedom and national unity, holds a special place in the hearts of Americans. Its iconic stars and stripes have graced countless battlefields, witnessed historic triumphs, and inspired generations. As such, it is paramount that we treat the flag with the utmost respect and care, adhering to established protocols for its display and disposal.

Proper Display
To ensure that the flag is displayed in a dignified manner, follow these guidelines:

Outdoor Display:

  • Fly the flag from sunrise to sunset on a sturdy flagpole that is at least as tall as the building’s height.
  • Display the flag at the peak of the staff or halyard, hoisted briskly to the top and lowered ceremoniously.
  • When displayed with other flags, the American flag should be placed at the highest point or in the most prominent position.

Indoor Display:

  • Display the flag in a well-lit, visible location, away from direct sunlight and heat sources.
  • Hang the flag vertically, with the blue field (top left corner) to the observer’s left.
  • Frame or mount the flag on a rigid surface to prevent it from becoming wrinkled or torn.

Handling and Storage:

  • Handle the flag carefully, avoiding letting it touch the ground or become soiled.
  • Fold the flag neatly and respectfully when not in use.
  • Store the flag in a clean, dry place away from excessive heat, moisture, or insects.

Respectful Disposal
When the flag becomes worn, faded, or torn, it must be disposed of in a respectful manner. According to the U.S. Flag Code, the preferred method is burning.

Burning the Flag:

  • Obtain permission from local authorities and ensure that the burning is conducted safely.
  • Create a fire in a safe, open area.
  • Place the flag on the fire and salute or stand at attention while it burns.
  • Once the flag has burned completely, collect the ashes and dispose of them in a respectful manner, such as burying them or scattering them in a nearby body of water.

Other Disposal Options:

  • Contact local veterans’ organizations or American Legion posts, which often conduct flag-burning ceremonies.
  • Some recycling facilities accept worn flags for proper disposal.
  • You may also cut the flag into small pieces and dispose of it in the trash, provided that it is done respectfully and in a way that does not violate the U.S. Flag Code.

U.S. Flag Code
The U.S. Flag Code, enacted in 1942, provides guidance on the proper display, handling, and disposal of the American flag. While not a federal law, the code is widely recognized and observed as a standard for respectful treatment of the flag. Some key provisions of the code include:

  • The flag should never be displayed upside down, except as a distress signal.
  • The flag should not be displayed with any other flag on the same staff or halyard, except for the official flags of states, territories, and the District of Columbia.
  • The flag should not be used as clothing, bedding, or advertising.
  • The flag should not be flown in inclement weather unless it is specially designed for such conditions.

Educational Resources


Q: Can I fly the American flag at night?
A: Yes, but only if the flag is properly illuminated.

Q: Can I display the American flag on my car?
A: Yes, but it must be properly attached to the vehicle and not allowed to drag on the ground.

Q: Can I use the American flag as a Halloween decoration?
A: No, this is considered disrespectful.

Q: What should I do if I see someone mishandling the American flag?
A: Respectfully remind them of the proper treatment of the flag or contact local law enforcement.


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