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Tips on how to handle your flag

by SHOLEH PATRICK
| June 21, 2022 1:05 AM

North Idaho loves its flags. Waves of red, white and blue (and other color substitutes) abound in this area year-round, not just on the Fourth. Patriotism runs high from front yards to truck beds and T-shirts.

The American Legion’s careful flag retirement ceremony earlier this month exemplifies an aspect of the U.S. Flag Code — a set of rights and wrongs designed to maintain the integrity of and respect for this national symbol.

In response to growing public concerns and confusion regarding the flag's handling, in 1942 Congress codified it with an emotional sense of nationalism:

"The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing." — U.S. Code, Title 4, Sec. 8

The Flag Code is advisory only, providing guidelines for the flag’s display, use, and retirement (a criminal penalty against its destruction in protest was ruled unconstitutional in 1989, under free speech doctrines):

• When displayed during the pledge and anthem, all present except military (who have separate guidelines, depending on whether in uniform) should stand facing the flag with right hand over heart.

• The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides or back of a vehicle (but may be fixed to the fender or chassis).

• Display from sunrise to sunset on buildings and flagstaffs; night displays for "patriotic effect" if properly illuminated. Don’t display during inclement weather, unless it’s an all-weather flag.

• Hoist it briskly and lower ceremoniously.

• If on a parade float, it should be on a staff.

• If on a wall/window, place the union (blue) to the observer's left.

• If displayed with another flag, the U.S. flag should be above or to the right.

• The flag itself should never be used as clothing, bedding, drapery or a receptacle (but an image of the flag on such items is not a violation).

• When "in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, (the flag) should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.”

Read the rest of the flag code at Law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/4/5 (click “next”).

Written with gratitude to the veteran who suggested this topic.

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Sholeh Patrick is a columnist for the Hagadone News Network. Email Sholeh@cdapress.com.

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