As Veterans we served our country with honor and distinction often times in harm's way and in foreign lands. Our Flag, represented home and all that we left to defend. We have seen it fly in proudly in every conflict, and drape the caskets of dear friends and loved ones. It continues to represent the greatest ideas of our nation.
We hope that the information on this page will help others use and display our Flag with the same reverence and pride that we do.
PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE:
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, on nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
HISTORY OF THE FLAG:
The flag of the United States of America is one of the oldest of the national standards of the world: older than the Union Jack of Great Britain of the Tricolor of France.
During the early days of the revolutionary War a variety of flags were used by different colonies and military commands. Prominent among these were the "Pine Tree” and "Rattlesnake” flags with various arrangements and mottoes.
Late in 1775 a committee of Congress with Benjamin Franklin at the head, after consulting with Washington, then in command of the army at Cambridge, decided upon the form for a new flag. This flag consisted of thirteen stripes, red and with, with the crosses of St. George and St. Andrew on a blue field in the canton or union. This proceeded the Declaration of Independence and indicated that the colonies had not wholly broken from the mother country. This flag was first unfurled by Washington, January 2, 1776. It was probably this flag which was raised by Paul Jones on his vessel and carried by the American fleet which sailed of Philadelphia in February, 1776.
During 1776 and 1777 a number of flags with thirteen stripes came into use and the need of a definite national emblem was realized. On June 14, 1777, Congress passed an act stating "That the Flagg 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.” This was the birthday of the Flag as we now know it and June 14 is now celebrated as "Flag Day.” This new flag was probably first displayed on land during the battle at Fort Stanwix, New York, although there are a number of authorities who claim that the first Stars and Striped displayed in battle was at the Battle of Bennington, Vermont, August 16th, 1777. At any rate, this flag, as displayed remained the national standard until 1795. The first display of the Stars and Stripes by the Continental Army was when the Flag was hoisted of Fort Stanwix, New York, on August 3, 1777.
In the meantime, Vermont and Kentucky had become states, and on January 13, 1794, Congress voted that the Flag should have fifteen stripes and fifteen stars. This Flag remained in use for twenty-three years, and it was "The Star-Spangled Banner” of which Francis Scott Key wrote in 1814.
In April, 1818, Congress passed an act providing that the Flag should have thirteen horizontal stripes, alternate red and white, and that the union should display twenty stars, representing the number of states then in the Union. It also provided that on the admission of every new state to the Union a star should be added on the following July 4thand this has been the regulation ever since, accounting for the number of stars now shown.
STARS AND STATES:
There is no legal or official designation for stars in the Flag as representing certain states. However, one can presume the first stated admitted to the Union to be represented by the star in the upper left-had corner and the latest state admitted to be the star in the lower right-had corner. Then reading across from left to right, row by row, top to bottom, the order would be as follows:
DE (1787), PA (1787), NJ (1787), GA (1788), CT (1788), MA (1788)
MD (1788), SC (1788), NH (1788), VA (1788), NY (1788)
NC (1789, RI (1790), VT (1791), KY (1792), TN (1796), OH (1803)
LA (1812), IN (1816), MS (1817), IL (1818), AL (1819)
ME (1820), MO (1821), AR (1836), MI (1837), FL 1845, TX 1845)
IA (1846), WI (1848), CA (1850), MN (1858), OR (1859)
KS (1861), WV (1863), NV (1864), NE (1867), CO (1876), ND (1889)
SD (1889), MT (1889), WA (1889), ID (1890), WY (1890)
UT (1896), OK (1907), NM (1912), AZ (1912), AK (1859), HI (1959)
COLORS OF THE FLAG:
The red, white and blue colors and their arrangement in the Flag are often interpreted as expressing the very character of our nation. The Continental Congress of 1777 declared that the white stars in a field of blue shall represent a "new constellation.” George Washington described the colors represented in our flag as:
The white in the Flag as symbolizing our desire for liberty – the land of the free.
The red in the Flag as symbolizing the courage and sacrifices of the nation’s defenders.
The blue in the Flag as symbolizing the loyalty and unity of our citizens.
DESCRIPTION OF THE FLAG:
The flag of the United States of America, has 13 horizontal stripes – alternating 7 red and 6 white – with the red stripes at top and bottom. The canton, or union of navy blue, occupies the upper left-had quarter next to the staff and extends from the top to the lower edge of the fourth red stripe. The 50 stars in the blue field equal the number of states admitted officially to the Union. The stars are arranged with one point up, in 9 horizontal rows. Rows 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 have 6 stars each. Rows 2, 4, 6, and 8 have 5 stars each with stars centered diagonally between stars in the longer rows above and below.
To determine the proper size Flag for a flagpole, figure 25 percent of the height of the flagpole, from the ground, as the correct length for the Flag.
FEDERAL FLAG CODE:
Public Law 344, passed by the 94th Congress, is known as the Federal Flag Code. It is the guide for all handling and display of the United States Flag.
It was established for the use of such civilians or civilian groups or organizations as may not be required to conform with regulations promulgated by one or more executive department of the Government of the United States.
The code does not impose penalties for the misuse of the flag. That is left up to the states and to the Federal Government for the District of Columbia. Each state has its own flag code.
Here are the rules for proper display and use of the United States Flag, as established by generally accepted custom and by Public Law 94-344 approved by Congress and signed by the President of the United States.
1. It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag by be displayed twenty-for hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
2. The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
3. The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.
4. The flag should be displayed on all special days.
5. The flag should be displayed daily on or near main administration buildings of every public institution.
6. The flag should be displayed in or near every polling place on election days
7. The flag should be displayed during school days in or near every schoolhouse.
8. When the Flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a window sill balcony or building front the union of the Flag should always be at the peak of the staff unless the Flag is at half-staff. When suspended of a sidewalk from a rope between a building and a pole, the Flag should be hoisted out front the building, union first.
9. When displayed over the middle of the street, the Flag of the U.S.A. should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street, or to the east in a north and south street.
10. When carried in a parade front with other flags the U.S. Flag should always be to the marching right of the of the other flags, or to the front and cent of the flag line.
11. When displayed on a float in a parade the U.S. Flag should be mounted on a staff or, if displayed flat. It should be so suspended that its folds fall free, as though the flag were staffed.
12. The Flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat. When the Flag is displayed on a motor car, the staff should be fixed firmly to the chassis, or clamed to the right fender.
13. The Flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
14. During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the Flag or when the Flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present except in uniform should face the Flag and stand at attention with the right hand over the heart. Those present in uniform should render the military salute. When not in uniform, mend should remover their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Aliens should stand at attention. The salute to the Flag in a moving column should be rendered at the monument the Flag passes.
15. During the rendition of the national anthem when the Flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the Flag with the right hand over the heart. Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should render the military salute at the first note of the anthem and retain this position until the last note. When the Flag is not displayed those present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the Flag were displayed there.
16. The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag should be rendered by standing at attention facing the Flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform, men should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the Flag, and render the military salute.
17. When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they should be flow from separate staffs of the same height and the flags should be of approximately equal size.
18. When flags or pennants of states, cities or societies are flown on the same halyard with the Flag of the U.S.A., the latter should always be at the peak. When flown from adjacent staffs the U.S. should be hoisted first and lowered last.
19. No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the U.S. Flag, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the Flag during church services for navy personnel. No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States at any place within the United States or any territory or possession thereof: Provided, that nothing in this section shall make unlawful the continuance of the practice heretofore followed of displaying the flag of the United Nations in a position of superior prominence or honor, and other national flags in positions of equal prominence of the flag of the United States at the headquarters of the United Nations.
20. When a number of flags of states or cities, or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs with the U.S. Flag the latter should be at the center and highest point of the group.
21. When displayed with another flag, as illustrated, the U.S. Flag should be to its own right, or the observer’s left, with its staff over that of the other flag.
22. The U.S. Flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, state, city organizational or other flags are dipped as a mark of honor.
NOTE: There is one exception to the above provision. U.S. Navy vessels, upon receiving a salute by the dipping of the flag from a vessel registered by a nation which is formally recognized by the U.S., must return the compliment dip for dip.
23. Do not display the Flag of the U.S.A., with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
24. Do not let the Flag of the United States tough anything beneath it. Such as the ground, floor, water or merchandise.
25. The U.S. Flag should be a distinctive feature of a ceremony for unveiling a statue or monument, but the Flag should never be used as the cover for the statue or monument.
26. On Memorial Day the Flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff.
NOTE: By order of the President, the Flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the U.S. Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory.
27. When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the Flags own right, that is, to the observer’s left. When displayed in a window, the Flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.
28. The U.S. Flag should never be used as drapery, never festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds. It should always be allowed to fall free. Buntin should be used for decoration.
29. Blue, white and red bunting should be used for covering a speaker’s stand, draping a platform front or for general decorations.
30. When bunting is displayed vertically, the blue will be to the observer’s left, white in the center and red on the right.
31. The Flag should never be fastened, displayed, used or stored in such a manner as will permit it to be easily torn, soiled or damaged.
32. The Flag should never be used as a ceiling cover.
33. Never hang or drape the Flag in any position below the seats on a platform.
34. When used on a speaker’s platform, the Flag, if displayed flat, should be above and behind the speaker. Use bunting to decorate a speaker’s desk or the front of the platform.
35. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the Flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman’s or speaker’s right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker or to the right of the audience.
36. The U.S. Flag should never be used as a table cover or receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying or delivering anything.
37. The U.S. Flag should never have placed upon any part of it, nor attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture or drawing of any nature.
38. The Flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.
39. When the Flag is used on a casket its union should be over the deceased’s left shoulder. Carry the casket foot first. The Flag should not be lowered into a grave, nor allowed to touch the ground.
40. After a U.S. Flag has been used as a casket cover it may, and should be displayed in every normal manner.
41. When the Flag is placed upon a grave, see that it will not touch the ground. Do not leave it there indefinitely. In Arlington and other National Cemeteries Flags are removed the following day.
42. When the Flag is so badly torn, soiled or faded that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display the Flag should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning. A torn Flag may be mended, or if soiled it may be washed or dry cleaned.
NOTE: If you or someone you know has a flag that is no longer a fitting emblem for display let us know and we will help ensure it is retired in a manner befitting our National Ensign. Here's how.
43. Any rule or custom pertaining to the display of the U.S. Flag may be changed or repealed, or additional rules may be prescribed only by the President of the United States acting as Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces. Any such change shall be set forth in a Presidential Proclamation.
WHEN TO DISPLAY THE FLAG:
New Year’s Day: January 1
Inauguration Day: January 20
Martin Luther King Jr’s Birthday: Third Monday in January
Lincoln’s Birthday: February 12
Washington’s Birthday: Third Monday in February
Easter Sunday: (Variable)
Mother’s Day: Second Sunday in May
Armed Forces Day: Third Saturday in May
Memorial Day (half-staff until noon):The last Monday in May
Flag Day: June 14
Independence Day: July 4
Labor Day: First Monday in September
Constitution Day: September 17
Columbus Day: Second Monday in October
Navy Day: October 27
Veterans Day: November 11
Thanksgiving Day: Fourth Thursday in November
Christmas Day: December 25
And such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States, the birthdays of States (date of admission), and on state holidays.
FOLDING THE FLAG:
1. Two persons, facing each other, hold the Flag waist high and horizontally between them.
2. The fold the lower striped section, lengthwise, over the blue field. Hold bottom to top, edges together, securely.
3. Then fold the Flag again, lengthwise, folded edge to open edge.
4. A triangular fold is started along the length of the Flag from the end of the heading, by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to meet the open edge.
5. Outer point is turned inward parallel with the open edge, forming a second triangle.
6. Repeat the triangular folding until entire length of the Flag is folded.
7. When the Flag is completely folded only the triangular blue field should be visible.
THIS IS WHAT THE 13 FOLDS MEAN:
- The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.
- The second fold signifies our belief in eternal life.
- The third fold is made in honor and tribute of the veteran departing our ranks, and who gave a portion of his or her life for the defense of our country to attain peace.
- The fourth fold exemplifies our weaker nature as citizens trusting in God; it is to Him we turn for His divine guidance.
- The fifth fold is an acknowledgement to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but it is still our country, right or wrong.”
- The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
- The seventh fold is a tribute to our armed forces, for it is through the armed forces that we protect our country and our flag against all enemies.
- The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor our mother, for whom it flies on Mother’s Day.
- The ninth fold is an honor to womanhood, for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty, and devotion that the character of men and women who have made this country great have been molded.
- The 10th fold is a tribute to father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since he or she was first-born.
- The 11th fold, in the eyes of Hebrew citizens, represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies, in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
- The 12th fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Ghost.
- The last fold, when the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost, reminding us of our national motto, "In God We Trust.”
To see the full US Flag Code, click here.