This past weekend my neighbor was flying his national ensign. I thought, isn’t that cool. Didn’t even occur to me that Sunday was Flag Day. So today I hang my head in shame. Flag Day did not show in the Google Holiday calendar. But, I digress – I cannot blame a calendar app.
Flag day is celebrated on the anniversary (June 14, 1777) of the passing of a flag resolution by the Second Continental Congress. It stated…
Resolved, That the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.
For more information, visit the Betsy Ross house website.
The father of our country, George Washington explained the flag as such: “We take the stars from Heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty.”
Initially, both the stars and the stripes represented each state, so in 1794, after Vermont (1791) and Kentucky (1792) were added to the Union, there were 15 stripes, and 15 stars. In 1818 Congress decreed that there shall only be thirteen stripes representing the original colonies, and there should be a star for each state in the Union. The effective date of each star is the July 4th following the state’s admittance to the Union.
When should you fly the flag? I’ll clue you in, Flag Day is one of those days! Click here for a list of holidays. In addition to the national list, we in Virginia should fly our flags on June 25th, the anniversary of the states admittance to the Union. Just in case anyone is curious: I’m also going to fly my flag on November 2nd in celebration of the Great State of North Dakota’s admittance to the Union.
When my daughters were small, I taught them how to fold the flag, and how to conduct colors (the rising and lowing of our National Ensign). Here is a good link on how to fold our flag.
What is a citizen to do? How is one to know all this information? Well, the US Government has codified it in Title 36, Chapter 10 of the U.S. Code. It is commonly referred to as the Flag Code. The following is a general common sense guide, provided by the American Military Retirees Association.
- The flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously.
- Ordinarily it should be displayed between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night. When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a window, balcony, or a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff.
- To place the flag at half staff, hoist it to the peak for an instant and lower it to a position half way between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag is to be raised again to the peak for a moment before it is lowered.
- On Memorial Day the flag is displayed at half staff until noon, and at full staff from noon to sunset.
- The flag is to be flown at half staff in mourning for designated, principal government leaders and upon presidential or gubernatorial order.
- When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms.
- To store the flag, it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously (See link above).
- The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary. Many dry cleaners will clean the U.S. flag free of charge when you bring it in with your other items for service.
- When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our county, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner. Many veterans organizations will do this for you.
To my astute neighbor, I hereby prostrate myself and ask your forgiveness. I hereby nominate myself as Asshole of the Month – Jun 2015.