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Fly the American Flag Respectfully and Responsibly

Aug 17, 2007
Back in the Norman Rockwell world that may or may not have ever existed, an American flag on every front porch seemed commonplace. That isn't the case so much now, but in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, the practice is gaining a new life. More and more Americans are wanting to show their support for their homeland, their principles and the men and women who are oversees on their behalf. Flying an American flag, however, comes with some responsibilities. There is a little pomp and circumstance to the effort.

There are actually rules for flying a flag. No, not the kind of rules that will get someone arrested, but the kind designed to show proper respect for the American country and the people who have and continue to make it great.

If your desire is to fly an American flag and follow all the customs that go along with it, read on. Here are some of the basics about flying the flag anyone should know to keep in step with tradition:

* According to the U.S. Flag Code of 1923, the American flag should only fly from sunrise to sunset, unless it's illuminated during night time hours. A simple spotlight generally does the trick here. But, if a light isn't included, it's considered disrespectful to keep a flag flying after the sun goes down.

* When other flags, such as business flags, school flags or even state or county flags, are flown with the U.S. flag, the stars and stripes should get top billing. This means the American flag needs to fly above the others. There are no exceptions.

* The U.S. flag should always be hoisted on a flag pole first and taken down last when other flags are flown with it.

* When the flags of other countries are displayed along with the American flag, they should each have their own flag poles. They can be of the same height as the American flag's pole, but not higher or lower. It's actually against international protocol to do otherwise.

* Flying the flag at half-staff is serious business. It should be done with the circumstance it deserves. The proper way to do this is to fly the flag at its full peak for a moment and then lower it to half-staff. A return to the peak position should occur before the flag's taken down for the day, as well.

* Worn, tattered and otherwise damaged flags should receive proper disposal. Local military veterans units and Boy or Girl Scout Troops hold ceremonies to help residents ensure the colors are retired with reverence.

The American flag is a symbol of the country, its people and its principles. Inasmuch, its flying is considered very serious to those who choose to follow age-old traditions. A way to show solidarity and a way to show pride in what has been accomplished and what yet remains to be accomplished, the flag is a symbol of pride for many. Flying it correctly and showing the proper respect means a lot to those who hold patriotism dear.
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