- Last Updated on 08:23 AM 06/19/13
- BY Paula I. Bryant
Friday was Flag Day. The American national flag has come through an eventful course of changes over the years. The U.S. Flag as we know it has been around since July 4, 1960 following the inclusion of Hawaii in the United States of America.
However, this flag featuring 50 stars on a canton against the background of 13 stripes - seven red and six white - has evolved through a long course of time.
Each year between Flag Day and July 4th, we field a call or two from persons interested in learning more about how to properly display the U. S. flag. With Independence Day only a few weeks away, we thought now would be a good time to share some of the proper ways that the U.S. flag can be displayed.
According to United States Code sections 175 and 176,
when displayed from a staff in a meeting hall or church, the U.S. flag should hold the position of superior prominence in advance of the audience and to the speaker’s right as he faces the audience.
When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left.
If displayed flat on the speaker’s platform, the flag should be displayed above and behind the speaker.
In a two flag table display set, the U.S. flag should be on the speaker’s right with any other flag to the left.
In a parade if there is a line of other flags, the U.S. flag should be on the marching right, or in front of the center of that line.
The U.S. flag should not be displayed on a float, except from a staff and should not be draped over the hood, top or sides of a vehicle, but from a staff affixed to the right fender.
No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, on the right of the American flag.
When flags of states, cities or localities, or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard, the American flag should always be at the peak.
When flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last.
When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they should be of the same size and flown from separate staffs of the same height.
The American flag should never be displayed with its union down, except as a signal of dire distress.
The U.S. flag should never touch anything beneath it, be used as bedding or drapery, be used as covering for a ceiling, or have any design or words on it or attached to it.
The U.S. flag should not be used as wearing apparel, or as part of a costume or athletic uniform.
However, a U.S. flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen and members of patriotic organizations.
An American flag lapel pin should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.
In addition to having questions about displaying the American flag, citizens also often question the proper method to fold the U.S. flag.
Although there are no flag code provisions requiring any particular method, the traditional method of folding the flag is as follows:
Two persons, facing each other, hold the flag waist high and horizontally between them.
The lower striped section is folded, lengthwise, over the blue field.
Hold bottom to top and edges together securely.
Fold the flag again, lengthwise, folded edge to open edge.
A triangular fold is started along the length of the flag, from the end to the heading by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to meet the open edge.
The outer point is turned inward parallel with the open edge, forming a second triangle.
Repeat the triangular folding until the entire length of the flag is folded.
When the flag is completely folded only the triangular blue field should be visible.
Tradition also sets the meaning of the flag folds along with an actual program for folding the flag.
The flag folding ceremony represents the same religious principles on which our great country was originally founded.
The portion of the flag denoting honor is the canton of blue containing the stars representing states our veterans served in uniform. The canton field of blue dresses from left to right and is inverted only when draped as a pall on the casket of a veteran who has served our country honorably in uniform.
In the Armed Forces of the United States, at the ceremony of retreat, the flag is lowered, folded in a triangle fold and kept under watch throughout the night as a tribute to our nation’s honored dead.
The next morning it is brought out and, at the ceremony of reveille, run aloft as a symbol of our belief in the resurrection of the body.
Symbols for the folds of the flag
The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
The second fold is a symbol of our belief in the eternal life.
The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of life for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.
The fourth fold represents our weaker nature; for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace, as well as in times of war, for His divine guidance.
The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”
The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies, whether they be found within or without the boundaries of our republic.
The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.
The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.
The 10th fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first born.
The 11th fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The 12th fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost.
When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, “In God We Trust.”
After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance, of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington and the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges and freedoms we enjoy today.
Happy Summer. Summer begins this Friday.