Caring For Your Flag On Patriot Day


“Where were you when the world stopped turning?” So go the words to a song country music singer Alan Jackson sang about September 11, 2001. If you were old enough, you will never forget where you were when you first heard the news about this country’s most tragic and horrific event in New York City, Pennsylvania, and Arlington, Va.

Patriot Day is recognized as the official day of remembrance of these tragic events. Each year on this day, U.S. flags are flown at half-staff to honor and commemorate the lives lost. Four airplanes began their fateful journey from Boston, Mass. The first plane struck the north tower at 8:46 a.m.

The sense of loss was overwhelming then and 14 years later, we are challenged to take this day to be proud of our country again. One way to do this is to display the U.S. flag. Yes, there are rules and laws to show our nation’s flag.

Public Law 94-344, known as the Federal Flag Code, contains rules for handling and displaying the U.S. flag.

Traditional guidelines call for displaying the flag in public only from sunrise to sunset. However, the flag may be displayed at all times if it’s illuminated when dark. The flag should not be subject to weather damage, so it should not be displayed during rain and wind storms unless it is an all-weather flag.

When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union (or blue field) should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left.

On a vehicle: Attach the flag to the antenna or clamp the flagstaff to the right fender. Do not lay the flag over the vehicle.

On a building: Hang the flag on a staff or on a rope over the sidewalk with the stars away from the building.

In a window: Hang the flag vertically with the stars to the left of anyone looking at it from the street.

Over the street: Hang the flag with the stars to the east on a north-south street or north on an east-west street.

Above other flags: Hang the flag above any flag on the same pole.

If the flag is frayed or otherwise not in perfect condition, it should be retired. Often a flag only needs cleaning to restore its original appearance. Flags can be machine washed in cold water with a mild detergent. They should be laid flat or hung to dry, never put in a dryer.

The proper way to retire a flag is to burn it. Burning it isn’t an act of desecration but is a dignified way to pay respect. If you would rather not burn your flag, contact the American Legion, a local Boy Scout troop, or McConnell Air Force Base.


Don’t get this day confused with Patriot’s Day. Ironically, the latter has its roots in Boston. It commemorates the battles of Lexington and Concord, fought near Boston in 1775. It is held annually on the third Monday of April.

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