How to Properly Display an American Flag

The U.S. flag should occupy a place of prominence when being displayed. No other flags displayed with it should be larger or hung higher than the U.S. flag. In addition, the U.S. flag should not be allowed to touch the ground, nor should it be dipped to any other flag, person or object.

* STEP 1: Make sure the flag is in respectable condition before you display it. A torn or tattered flag should not be displayed.
* STEP 2: Make sure the union (blue field with white stars) is at the top of the staff when the flag is displayed on a flagpole.
* STEP 3: Keep the U.S. flag at the top when more than one flag is flown from the same halyard.
* STEP 4: When hanging the flag at half-staff, first hoist it to the peak of the pole, then lower it to half-staff. When lowering the flag, hoist it to the peak of the pole again, then lower it. Any other flags flying alongside the U.S. flag should also be lowered to half-staff.
* STEP 5: Place the flag over a casket so that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.
* STEP 6: When displayed on a wall, the flag should be placed with the union in the upper left corner as the audience faces the flag and should be above and behind the speakers' podium.
* STEP 7: Place the flag on the speakers' right of the podium (the audience's left) when displaying the U.S. flag in an auditorium or church.

Tips & Warnings

* It is proper to turn towards the flag and stand at attention with your right hand over your heart whenever the flag passes in parade, or is raised or lowered during a ceremony. Those in uniform should give the military salute.
* When a flag is tattered or no longer in a condition that warrants display, remember to dispose of it in a "dignified" manner - being burned in private is considered a dignified end for a flag.
* The flag should be hung upside-down only in times of emergency to signal distress.
* The flag should not be flown in inclement weather that might damage it.


Panel OKs flags in schools

DENVER — The Senate Education Committee on Thursday approved a bill that would allow the permanent display of foreign flags in schools, other public buildings and Denver International Airport.

House Bill 1050 would, however, ban a foreign flag on a permanent flagpole on the grounds of a school or other government building.

The bill was sent to the Senate on a 5-1 vote, with only Sen. Josh Penry, R-Fruita, opposed.

Penry argued that the bill risks creating further confusion about the rules governing the display of foreign flags.

"This is not any sort of seismic struggle," Penry said. "We're just trying to figure out how to put the flags up in buildings. I don't see any additional clarity yet."

Last year, a teacher at a Jefferson County school was required to remove several flags of other nations on display in his classroom, and a principal at another school ordered the removal of all the flags in the school's gym, including the American flag, because he was concerned that the school was in violation of the law.

Sen. Sue Windels, D-Arvada, said the bill is needed to assure teachers and school districts that the use of another nation's flag for instructional purposes is not against Colorado law.

"You can do whatever you want in your classroom, as long as it's within the school district's policy," Windels said.

The bill allows school districts discretion to set their own rules about whether to allow foreign flags to be hung inside school buildings.

But Sen. Ron Tupa, D-Boulder and a former social studies teacher, insisted that school boards should not have the authority to prohibit a teacher from using another nation's flag in the classroom.

"I think you'd be abdicating your responsibility not to have a flag flying" in a social studies classroom, Tupa said.

Representatives of several veterans groups and a retired Army officer praised the bill, noting that it also removes uncertainty about whether the POW-MIA flag can be flown at public buildings and makes clear that the American flag must be flown in a manner consistent with the federal flag code.

Several high school students also testified in support of the bill. They asked legislators to consider that exposure to the flags of other countries is educationally beneficial and teaches respect for people of other nationalities.

"Flags on display are for educational purposes and not as an act of rebellion," said Johnny Valencia, a student at Gateway High School.

The bill now moves to the Senate.


The History Of Flag Day

The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America's birthday, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the Flag is believed to have first originated in 1885. BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as 'Flag Birthday'. In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as 'Flag Birthday', or 'Flag Day'.

On June 14, 1889, George Balch, a kindergarten teacher in New York City, planned appropriate ceremonies for the children of his school, and his idea of observing Flag Day was later adopted by the State Board of Education of New York. On June 14, 1891, the Betsy Ross House in Philadelphia held a Flag Day celebration, and on June 14 of the following year, the New York Society of the Sons of the Revolution, celebrated Flag Day.

Following the suggestion of Colonel J Granville Leach (at the time historian of the Pennsylvania Society of the Sons of the Revolution), the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames of America on April 25, 1893 adopted a resolution requesting the mayor of Philadelphia and all others in authority and all private citizens to display the Flag on June 14th. Leach went on to recommend that thereafter the day be known as 'Flag Day', and on that day, school children be assembled for appropriate exercises, with each child being given a small Flag.

Two weeks later on May 8th, the Board of Managers of the Pennsylvania Society of Sons of the Revolution unanimously endorsed the action of the Pennsylvania Society of Colonial Dames. As a result of the resolution, Dr. Edward Brooks, then Superintendent of Public Schools of Philadelphia, directed that Flag Day exercises be held on June 14, 1893 in Independence Square. School children were assembled, each carrying a small Flag, and patriotic songs were sung and addresses delivered.

In 1894, the governor of New York directed that on June 14 the Flag be displayed on all public buildings. With BJ Cigrand and Leroy Van Horn as the moving spirits, the Illinois organization, known as the American Flag Day Association, was organized for the purpose of promoting the holding of Flag Day exercises. On June 14th, 1894, under the auspices of this association, the first general public school children's celebration of Flag Day in Chicago was held in Douglas, Garfield, Humboldt, Lincoln, and Washington Parks, with more than 300,000 children participating.

Adults, too, participated in patriotic programs. Franklin K. Lane, Secretary of the Interior, delivered a 1914 Flag Day address in which he repeated words he said the flag had spoken to him that morning: "I am what you make me; nothing more. I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of color, a symbol of yourself."

Inspired by these three decades of state and local celebrations, Flag Day - the anniversary of the Flag Resolution of 1777 - was officially established by the Proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson on May 30th, 1916. While Flag Day was celebrated in various communities for years after Wilson's proclamation, it was not until August 3rd, 1949, that President Truman signed an Act of Congress designating June 14th of each year as National Flag Day.

The American Flag Story

According to popular legend, the first American Flag was made by Betsy Ross, a Philadelphia seamstress who was acquainted with George Washington, leader of the Continental Army, and other influential Philadelphians. In May 1776, so the story goes, General Washington and two representatives from the Continental Congress visited Ross at her upholstery shop and showed her a rough design of the American Flag. Although Washington initially favored using a star with six points, Ross advocated for a five-pointed star, which could be cut with just one quick snip of the scissors, and the gentlemen were won over. Unfortunately, historians have never been able to verify this charming version of events, although it is known that Ross made flags for the navy of Pennsylvania. The story of Washington's visit to the flag maker became popular about the time of the country's first centennial, after William Canby, a grandson of Ross, told about her role in shaping U.S. history in a speech given at the Philadelphia Historical Society in March 1870.

What is known is that the first unofficial national flag, called the Grand Union Flag or the Continental Colours, was raised at the behest of General Washington near his headquarters outside Boston, Mass., on Jan. 1, 1776. The American Flag had 13 alternating red and white horizontal stripes and the British Union Flag (a predecessor of the Union Jack) in the canton. Another early flag had a rattlesnake and the motto “Don't Tread on Me.”

The first official American Flag, also known as the Stars and Stripes, was approved by the Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. The blue canton contained 13 stars, representing the original 13 colonies, but the layout varied. Although nobody knows for sure who designed the flag, it may have been Continental Congress member Francis Hopkinson.

After Vermont and Kentucky were admitted to the Union in 1791 and 1792, respectively, two more stars and two more stripes were added in 1795. This 15-star, 15-stripe American Flag was the “star-spangled banner” that inspired lawyer Francis Scott Key to write the poem that later became the U.S. national anthem.

In 1818, after five more states had gained admittance, Congress passed legislation fixing the number of stripes at 13 and requiring that the number of stars equal the number of states. The last new star, bringing the total to 50, was added on July 4, 1960, after Hawaii became a state.