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FLAG DAY: Here are guidelines for displaying Old Glory

Commemorating the adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777, Flag Day is a day when Americans are asked to fly the American flag with pride and reverence.

The resolution passed by the Second Continental Congress stated, “Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” The flag has experienced more than a few changes since that time, noticeably the addition of 37 more stars—each representing a state of the Union.
In 1795, the federal government authorized an additional stripe and star with the addition of each new state. With the admission of Kentucky and Vermont to the Union, this flag, referred to as “The Star Spangled Banner,” is the one that Francis Scott Key viewed as he wrote the words to our current national anthem. That very flag is on display at the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D.C.
As more states began to line up for admission to the Union, it became apparent that adding more stripes would make the flag look out of balance. In 1818 the current statute that regulates our nation’s flag went into effect. It stated that the flag would have only 13 stripes but one star would be added for each state in the United States.
With respect to this time-honored symbol of America, it is important to remember the proper protocol for displaying our national ensign:

  • The flag must be in good shape, not faded or frayed. If additional flags are displayed on the same pole, they must also be in good shape, smaller and below the American flag.
  • The flag must be ”two blocked” to the top of the flag pole
  • The flag MUST be lighted if left up after sunset.
  • If lowered and removed during the night it must be done with reverence and respect. (NEVER allowed to touch the ground)
  • If mounted on a wall, the flag should be to the right as one would exit the door.
  • The flag must be able to be seen from both directions of the road without being blocked by a sign or tree.
  • The flagpole should be surrounded by a tastefully maintained area, with no rubbish, litter or graffiti in the area.
  • The finial at the top of the pole should be attractive.
  • The flagpole itself should be maintained to a high standard.
  • The American flag should not be part of a business advertising its location e.g. a huge flag flying over a commercial enterprise to draw attention to the location.
  • Proper procedures must be followed when a Government authority has ordered the flag to be flown at half-mast. (e.g. Raise briskly to the top of the pole and then slowly lower to half-mast)


The Blue Ridge Chapter of the Society of the Sons of the American Revolution is looking for local examples of proper flag etiquette. Those displaying the flag properly may be a candidate to receive the National Flag Display Award from the chapter. For more information contact Tom Long, the chapter’s American flag program chairman, at tomeaglenc@aol.com.