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Flag Etiquette

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For those of us in the United States, it's that time of year when we are preparing to celebrate our nation's birthday! Did you know there is a formal Flag Code that outlines how we should use and respect the flag? Here are a few dos (and don'ts) for displaying your U.S. flag properly:

• Do display it so the union (also called the canton -- this is the blue field with stars) is at the peak of the staff on a flagpole. If displaying it against a wall, vertically or horizontally, the union should be at the flag's top right (to the observer's left).

• Do keep your U.S. flag clean and neatly mended.

• Do dispose of a tattered U.S. flag properly. As indicated in the U.S. Flag Code: "The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning." Most American Legion posts regularly conduct a flag-burning ceremony, often on Flag Day, so contact your local post to ask whether this service is available.

• Don't position other flags higher than the U.S. flag if you are grouping several types of flags (sports teams, states, localities, etc.) in a display. The U.S. flag should be at the center and highest point of the group. When assembling a display of flags from several nations, all flags should be of the same size and flown from separate staffs at the same height.

•  Don't leave your U.S. flag in the dark. The U.S. flag is traditionally displayed between sunrise and sunset; it can be displayed at night only if it is illuminated.

• Don't use your U.S. flag as a tablecloth, window covering or the like. Choose red, white and blue bunting instead.

For more information on the history of the U.S. flag and and how to properly display and care for it, visit www.usflag.org.

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