Every year on certain holidays, especially Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day, I call my father for one special reason: to thank him for his service to our country.
At age 18, my dad was drafted into the US Army and bravely served our country overseas in the Vietnam War in the mid-1960s. A quarter-century earlier, my grandfather also courageously fought for our country in the Army Air Force Signal Corps in the Pacific Islands during World War II, while my grandmother helped the wartime effort at home working as a secretary in Washington, DC.
These “ordinary” Americans—and the millions and millions of active and veteran service members of the Armed Forces and their families—have made extraordinary sacrifices to protect and preserve our freedom and the American way of life.
Along with a heartfelt thank-you for their service, another way to salute these valiant men and women—and honor the memory of those who made the ultimate sacrifice—is to display the American flag, a cherished living symbol of our liberty. To do so respectfully, follow the guidance set out in the US Flag Code, including the following 11 advisory rules.
- Publicly display the flag only from sunrise to sunset, unless you illuminate it during darkness.
- When displaying the flag against a wall (horizontally or vertically), position the union (field of stars) uppermost and to the flag’s own right and the observer’s left. Likewise, when displaying the flag in a window, position the union to the left of the viewer in the street.
- Fly the flag often—even every day—but especially on national and state holidays and other days as proclaimed by the President or a governor of the state.
- During the flag’s hoisting and lowering and when the flag passes in parade or other review, Americans should face the flag and place their right hand over their heart as they stand at attention. Those not in uniform should remove any hat or other headdress, holding it with their right hand at their left shoulder, with their hand placed over their heart. (Those who aren’t US citizens should stand at attention.)
- When stowing the flag, fold it in a triangle with care, and store it in a manner that prevents it from becoming torn, soiled or harmed in any way.
- Don’t display the flag in inclement weather, unless it’s an all-weather flag protected from possible damage.
- Never wear the flag as clothing or an accessory, use it as a bedspread or curtains, attach it as a ceiling covering or the like. (For decoration, use appropriate bunting instead.)
- Never display the flag with the union down, except in extreme emergencies as a distress signal.
- Never dip the flag to any person or thing.
- Don’t let the flag touch the ground or anything beneath it.
- Don’t fasten or tie back the flag in folds. The flag should always fall free.
As you unfurl that beautiful Star-Spangled Banner and those stars and stripes wave in the breeze, you can hear it: the sweet sound of freedom ringing across this great land of the free and home of the brave.