Regardless of your political party or opinions, we all have one thing in common as American citizens – Old Glory – the symbol of our great nation and what it stands for.
By displaying our nation’s colors in the form of an American Flag, we convey our pride and patriotism. Doing so tells the world (and your neighbors) that you are Proud to be an American. Red, white and blue are our nation’s defining colors and are consistently used by our government agencies, print ads aimed at or sponsored by Americans as well as by individual citizens. Sometimes these usages do not follow the basic rules of respect that have been set up as guidelines for responsible flag owners.
Being raised as an ‘Army brat,’ I was taught from an early age to respect the American flag. My father, a career military man, was proud and patriotic. reminding us often how fortunate we are to be living in the ‘greatest country in the world.’ To this day and EVERY day, I fly a flag. Whenever I see it waving proudly in the breeze, I am reminded of the many soldiers in our past and present, who fought for our freedom and continue to do so.
There are certain rules for being a responsible flag owner that everyone should practice and be aware of. So if you choose to display a flag on your home or business, please take time out to practice these rules of etiquette and respect.
Decide on an appropriate sized flag for your display area. The typical home-use flag is approximately 2’x 3′ and can be purchased almost anywhere. They come in different fabric types, as well. I highly recommend spending a bit more and get the nylon or polyester variety with appliquéd stars in the blue field. These are more weather and fade resistant and can remain intact and beautiful for quite a long time.
Choose your display area. Will you attach a bracket to an existing wall or post near your home? Or will you decide on installing a flagpole in an open area of your property?
Keep in mind that it is proper flag etiquette to provide light on your flag at nighttime. If you position it properly, you can readjust your existing landscape spotlights for this purpose. All it takes is one light for this.
Although it is not always done, proper flag care says that you should take down your flag in inclement weather. I don’t always do this unless the rain and/or wind are so strong that I am afraid it will get ripped down and damaged.
Remember that proper respect for our flag includes never allowing your flag to touch the ground. If by accident (or due to strong winds that tear your flag off of its display) your flag drops to the ground, clean it with mild soapy water and re-hang.
After a long period of display in the outdoors, your flag may become torn or extremely faded. This would require you to properly dispose of your old flag so you can replace it with a new and vibrant one. Proper flag etiquette dictates the proper way of disposal is to burn your flag. It not acceptable (and even considered disrespectful) to just throw your flag in the trash. If you cannot burn your old flag right way, you should fold it up and store it somewhere safe until you are able to do so. Another way to dispose of worn or tattered American flags is to give them to your local Boy Scouts Of America group. Periodically, they hold special ceremonies that will honor the respected guidelines in destroying your flag.
Display respect, patriotism and love of our nation’s flag by always honoring the National Anthem every time you hear it. This can be easily accomplished by standing up, removing your cap or hat and facing the flag. It is recommended to refrain from talking during the singing of the National Anthem although singing along is highly acceptable. (I am still amazed at the great numbers of United States citizens who don’t know the words to this beautiful song.) This is a good time to think about the lyrics and what they really mean in regards to the flag and its symbolism.
No matter how angry or disgruntled you may be at our nation’s government, you have to admit that we still live in the greatest land in the world. Be proud to be an American. Make it part of your life’s mission to pass along your accumulated knowledge of our country’s history and how it has allowed us all to live free and honorable. Teach your children and grandchildren what it means to be patriotic by showing respect to the flag. Only in this way can we keep this national tradition alive and well. God Bless America!