We celebrate America’s birthday on July 4, but the American flag has its own birthday, Flag Day, June 14.
According to the Flag Code, adopted by the National Flag Conference in 1923 and amended and adopted by Congress in 1942, the United States flag “represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing.”
The Flag Code specifies the display and use of the flag, the times and occasions for display, the position and manner of display and rules of respect for the flag.
Here are some of the major provisions of the Flag Code:
1. According to universal custom, the flag is displayed from sunrise to sunset on buildings and stationary flag staffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
2. The flag should be displayed on all days and especially on national and state holidays.
3. The flag should not be displayed in bad weather unless the flag is an all-weather flag.
4. The flag should be displayed during school days in or near every schoolhouse, on or near the administration building of every public institution and in or near every polling place on election days.
5. No disrespect should ever be shown to the flag of the United States of America.
6. Even though regimental colors, state flags and organization or institution flags are dipped as a mark of honor, the flag of the United States should never be dipped to any person or thing.
7. The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
8. The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water or merchandise.
9. The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
10. The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back or up in folds but always allowed to fall free.
11. 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. It should not be painted or otherwise impressed on paper napkins, boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.
12. No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However a flag or patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen and members of patriotic organizations.
13. The U.S. flag should always be displayed in the most prominent, most honored position. No other flag should appear more important.
14. No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the American flag, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea when the church pennant may be flown above the flag.
15. When carried in a procession with another flag or flags, the American flag should be on its own right or in front of the center of a line of other flags.
16. The flag should not be displayed on a float in a parade except from a staff.
17. When a flag is displayed on a wall, it should be displayed with the union uppermost and to the observer’s left.
18. In a multiflag display in the U.S., the U.S. flag is displayed first, to its own right, followed by flags of all other countries at equal height and in alphabetical order to the left (observer’s right) of the U.S. flag.
19. When a flag is displayed as a pin, it should be worn on the left side near the heart.
20. When a flag is worn or damaged and no longer fitting for display, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning.
Local American Legion posts and Boy Scout troops regularly hold ceremonies to dispose of unserviceable flags.
Damaged or worn flags may be dropped off at American Legion Nicholson Post 38, 151 S. Wooddale Blvd., on weekdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The flags will be properly retired.