Old Glory has rules

When I was growing up, I was taught the flag should be flown only during daylight hours (unless you have a spotlight) and when it is not raining. Since 9/11, I've seen many flags flying 24 hours a day and in all kinds of weather. Can you please explain what the rules are regarding flying our flag. I'd like to fly the flag during this patriotic time of the year, but want to do it with the proper respect.

— Peggy R., via e-mail

Peggy, this is a timely question, and one the Since You Asked team always expects to receive between Flag Day (June 14) and July 4.

Questions by concerned and confused patriots such as yourself resulted in the U.S. Flag Code, created in 1942 under President Franklin D. Roosevelt and amended in 1976.

The code states that the U.S. flag should be flown from sunrise to sundown only unless there is adequate illumination by a spotlight or similar light at night. Furthermore, the flag should not be flown in inclement weather, "except when an all-weather flag is displayed," the code reads.

Other rules flag-wavers should be aware of include:

  • The U.S. flag takes precedence in size and prominence over all other flags when flown in the U.S.
  • The flag should always be displayed with the point of honor — the starry blue field — to the observer's left.
  • The flag should never be used as a banner, bunting or covering, except when displayed on caskets at certain funerals.
  • The flag should never be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, nor should it be embroidered on cushions or handkerchiefs.
  • Civilian bystanders should salute the flag by putting their right hand over their heart when the flag is raised, lowered or carried by on parade.

Peggy, let's hope the code-breakers you mentioned are reading this column and show Old Glory the respect she's due.

For a list of rules, visit www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/RL30243.pdf.

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