With Flag Day tomorrow (06/14) in the United States, one may wonder exactly what Flag Day is all about. In essence, Flag Day celebrates the adoption of the Flag of the United States of America on June 14, 1777, specifically the 13 alternating red and white bars and the (at the time) 13 states represented by white stars on a blue background. Regarding the "Stars and Stripes," here are some answers to common questions someone may have about our flag.

What should I do when raising and lowering the US Flag?

Credit: American Legion Auxillary
Credit: American Legion Auxillary
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According to the United States Flag Code, there are some simple, yet important rules you should follow when raising or lowering "Old Glory."

  • When raising or lowering the flag, you should salute or place a hand over your heart.
  • When lowering the flag, it shouldn't touch anything beneath it.
  • On rainy days, the flag shouldn't be displayed unless the flag is made of all-purpose material.
  • The flag should be raised briskly and lowered ceremoniously.

How should I dispose of a flag that is damaged or otherwise unserviceable?

The US Flag Code dictates that when a flag is unfit for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. However, it's important to mention that burning the flag in a public fashion may be seen as desecration. The American Legion recommends burning the flag discreetly, however, posts all across the country do hold Disposal of Unserviceable Flag Ceremonies during Flag Day to respectfully retire flags that are no longer able to be used.

Am I able to wash or dry-clean a dirty flag?

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Contrary to what you may think, you can absolutely wash the flag. There is nothing prohibiting such an act from the US Flag Code. However, you'll want to ensure you wash it separately from other materials and wash it in a manner that is appropriate to the material the flag is made of so as not to damage it.

How should the flag be displayed?

The flag needs to be displayed at the center and in the highest position if displayed in a group of flags. The flag also can never be displayed with the Union (stars) down, unless as a "signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property." Doing so otherwise is disrespectful and is usually done in protest, as may have been the case at this Billings residence last year.

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Those interested in learning more about the flag, as well as more flag etiquette, can visit the American Legion Auxillary website here. We hope everyone has a wonderful Flag Day across the state of Montana and the United States of America.

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