Do’s of U.S. Flag Usage
- Do hoist the flag quickly, and lower it gently and solemnly.
- Do salute the flag as it is raised and lowered, and continue saluting until the flag is unfastened from the halyard.
- Do make sure that the union is at the peak of the staff when displaying the flag from a window or building; the exception to this rule is if the flag is at half-staff.
- Do make sure that the flag takes top position when displaying it with another flag, such as a state flag, from the same flagpole. The exception to this rule is if the second flag is a church pennant, which may then take precedence only during a chapel service that is presided over by a Naval chaplain on a ship at sea.
- Do position the flag to its own right when displaying it with other pennants on separate flagpoles of the same height and in a straight line.
- Do make sure that the American flag is always larger than any other pennants that are also displayed with it.
- Do hang the flag in a vertical position — with the union facing northwards or eastwards — when displaying the flag over a street. However, if the pennant hangs over a sidewalk, the union should be farthest from the building.
- Do clean and repair as needed.
- Do fold the flag as carefully as possible — and in a solemn manner — when preparing it for storage.
Don’ts of U.S. Flag Usage
- Do not fly the flag upside down, except as a distress signal; this is the one and only exception.
- Do not allow the flag to touch the ground.
- Do not fly the flag outside of the sunrise-to-sunset timeframe. However, if flag is left on display during the nighttime hours, be sure to illuminate it.
- Do not hoist any flag before the American flag, nor lower any flag afterwards.
Show your respect for Old Glory with a patriotic pin.
The colors of the flag in our nation’s Great Seal were ascribed particular meanings by the secretary of the Continental Congress. What these colors represent is so strikingly similar to our public safety servants that it’s rather difficult to differentiate between the two.
- Red stands for hardiness and valor, and who portrays these characteristics more than our public safety servants? No one. Like the flag that ever waves — regardless of the battle fire that blazes around it, threatening to singe and destroy the flag at its seams — so the public safety servant stands tall and strong. And not just tall and strong, but relentless — relentless in spirit, grit and courage. The kind of relentlessness that drives a person to save a stranger from a burning building; the kind of relentlessness that drives a person to put himself in unspeakable danger in his pursuit to wipe drugs off the streets and out of the schools; the kind of relentlessness that drives a person to give his life on foreign soil for the freedom of a nation not his own.
- White stands for purity and innocence. When the flag is hoisted, we are reminded of a nation that was birthed from the simple hope that citizens could form their own government, free from the oppression of tyranny. To live and breathe and work in a democracy guarded and protected from corruption, where the wellbeing and rights of the innocent are defended and protected. When we see our public safety servants rushing to rescue those whose rights are being violated, we see the deepest form of human purity and innocence in action: the selfless disregard of one’s own interests for the good of another.
- Blue stands for vigilance, perseverance and justice. For more than two centuries the flag has persevered through warfare, terroristic attacks and natural disasters. For longer than that, our public safety servants have persevered through the worst conditions imaginable to keep our nation and her citizens safe.
What drives a man or woman to sacrifice without hesitation? Where does the unflagging devotion to service, honor and justice come from? Only a public safety servant could answer these questions. Regardless of the answers, we are thankful that you do what you do. Like the U.S. Flag, you cease not to give us hope, preserve our freedom and keep us safe.