Keep those colors flying the right way

By Trina Trice

Old Glory will have a strong presence during Independence Day activities.

While the purchase of American flags increased dramatically following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, maintenance of those flags and others purchased for a national holiday could wane due to lack of knowledge.

A flag code has been established to that explains, for instance, the universal custom for displaying the flag is from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open.

A flag can be displayed 24 hours a day if it is properly lit during darkness, according to the American Legion.

When an American flag is passing in a parade, all individuals present, except those in uniform, should face the flag and stand at attention with the right hand over the heart. Men should remove hats or other headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Foreigners should stand at attention. Those in uniform should make the military salute.

"The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing," flag code states.

A flag in bad condition should be destroyed in a "dignified way," preferably by burning.

Old or worn flags can be taken to any local American Legion for proper disposal.

Other notes on flag etiquette include:

?The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all weather flag is displayed.

?The flag should be displayed on all days, especially on New Year's Day, Jan. 1; Inauguration Day, Jan. 20; Martin Luther King, Jr.'s birthday, the third Monday in January; Lincoln's Birthday, Feb. 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, Sept. 17; Columbus Day, second Monday in October; Navy Day, Oct. 27; Veterans Day, Nov. 11; Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November; Christmas Day, Dec. 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.

?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.

?The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.

?The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker's desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.

?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.

?No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.