US Flag

ETIQUETTE

As Scouts, we share a special responsibility to understand the proper ways to show respect for our flag in ceremonies, meetings, at home and in the community.  Most people expect that Scouts are instantly experts in flag handling, flag ceremonies and the like,  because almost every living adult has seen at one time or another, a group of Scouts rendering respect to a flag, conducting an opening flag ceremony at a PTA meeting, carrying a flag in a parade, etc.  In fact, most folks look to Scouts to answer their questions about matters related to the display or use of a flag.  It is a high compliment that so many people hold Scouts in such esteem.  Unfortunately, however, Scouts don't instinctively know how to render respect to the flag.  They must learn from us, their leaders.

 

To be worthy of our community's confidence requires us to continue to assure that our Scouts are aware of the basics of flag etiquette.  The rules are found in Title 36 of the United States Code starting at Section 170.

FOLDING THE FLAG

To fold the flag correctly, bring the striped half up over the blue field.

Then fold it in half again.

Bring the lower striped corner to the upper edge, forming a triangle.

Then fold the upper point in to form another triangle. Continue until the entire length of the flag is folded.

When you get near the end—nothing but the blue field showing—tuck the last bit into the other folds to secure it.

The final folded flag resembles a cocked hat with only the white stars on a blue field showing.

 

WHEN TO DISPLAY THE FLAG

The flag should only be displayed from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flag staffs in the open.  However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day, if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

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 Years Day, Inauguration Day, Lincoln's Birthday, Washington's Birthday, Easter Sunday, Mother's Day, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day (Half-staff until noon), Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Constitution Day, Columbus Day, Navy Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States.

 

RAISING AND LOWERING THE FLAG

The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.

The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half staff position.  The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.

During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag all persons present except those 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.  Aliens should stand at attention.  The salute to the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.

 

RESPECT FOR THE FLAG

The flag should not be dipped to any persons or things.  Other flags are dipped towards the United States flag as a mark of honor.

The flag should never be displayed with 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, floor, water, or merchandise.

The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.

The flag should not be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.

The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.

The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner.

No part of flag should be used as a costume or athletic uniform.  However, a flag patch may be affixed to a uniform.

Flag lapel pins should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.

 

DESTRUCTION OF THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES

The flag, when it is such condition that is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.  Burial is also an appropriate method.  See "With Honor and Dignity", Scouting Magazine, May-June 1993 at p. 34.  Though not strictly necessary, some Scouters prefer that when using either method the flag should be cut into two pieces down its center between two stripes.  Then the blue union field should be separated.  The remains no longer are a flag and may be destroyed without any disrespect to the former flag.