Flag Day: Standards of respect and U.S. Flag etiquette - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Flag Day: Standards of respect and U.S. Flag etiquette

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As Americans take time to appreciate what the flag represents on Flag Day, it's a good time for a refresher course in flag etiquette. The United States Flag Code, found in the first chapter of the U.S. Code, establishes some advisory rules. There is no penalty for not complying. But many people we spoke with say they are grateful when citizens do.

"It's symbolic. It represents the united states of america. And thousands and thousands of people have died for that flag, so we should treat it with reverence, with respect, with dignity," said Herman Watkins, program specialist at the Alabama National Cemetery.

As a Navy veteran, he says it disturbs him to see the American flag handled or displayed without care. Many well-intentioned people are not aware of proper flag etiquette. However, the United States Flag Code outlines rules concerning the stars and stripes. 

After more than 30 years in the military, Watkins can rattle off the rules. 

 "You fly the flag during the daylight hours. If you fly it at night you have to have shining on the flag at all times. If you have the flag upside down that means it's a sign of distress."

 For those who do not have the code memorized, a simple online search of the Flag Code can help.

Here are few to remember:

- The flag should not be used as a drapery

- The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding or carrying

- The flag should not be used as a costume 

- The flag should never be used for advertising purposes

- The flag should be at the center and at the highest point if displayed among a group of flags on staffs

- The flag should not be draped over the top of hoods, tops, sides or back of vehicles 

- Wen the flag is lowered, it should never touch the ground.

Perhaps one of the most common offenses is displaying a flag that is tattered, dirty or faded. 

"We take pride in it and a lot of people comment about the flag and notice the flag," said Chuck Woody, general sales manager of Crest Cadillac in Hoover.

The flag is prominently displayed in front of the business so he makes sure it's always in good shape. 

"We have one that is refurbished and ready to go up in case this on gets a little tattered," he said.

The Flag Code states that a flag should be destroyed when it is so worn that it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country. But simply throwing it away is not deemed acceptable. 

"The Boy Scouts offer a flag disposal service that in a very respectful way we do away with the flag," said Walter Rush, Vice President for the Boy Scouts Council of Greater Alabama.

He says a flag disposal service is meant to be somber. 

"It's not a public service. It's not something that's done and advertised. It's something that is done and advertised. It's a very respectful quiet, orderly event. There is a fire. And we read the script," said Rush.

 Rush even demonstrated with me the proper way to fold a flag. 

Watkins says the best way to remember how to treat the flag is to remember those who have died for it. 

"That flag is draped over the caskets of our veterans. It should be handled with reverence honor and dignity."

When you purchase a new flag, it comes with this brochure titled "Our Flag", as a reminder of the rules as soon as you take your flag out of the packaging.
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