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Old Glory   The Service Flag
The American Flag

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50star.gif (2945 bytes)1It has become customary to fly The Flag on National Holidays, and many people now fly The Flag daily from their homes. This action demonstrates Patriotism and Loyalty to our Country and Honors the sacrifice of all who have made this Great Nation possible. 

"Old Glory, Long May It Wave"

The Flag of The United States of America will stand only as long as all of us want it to stand. It is the symbol of this great Nation of ours built from the hard work and sacrifice of those who have gone before us. The strength of our Nation is the sum total of that hard work and sacrifice, and the strength, cunning and prowess of those who our forefathers, sons and daughters have fought and defeated in battle to defend it.


Most of us have heard the stories of Betsy Ross and our first Flag. Congress adopted the first Flag design June 14, 1777. As States have been added so have stars. Congress formally adopts any modifications to our flag and prescribes the etiquette required for the display and handling of this great national symbol.

Over the years the Flag of The United States has been burned and trampled both home and abroad by citizens who are not happy with our country and want to make a point. For our citizens at home who make this choice it is difficult to make sense of this disrespectful action when so many have died defending their right of free speech. 

Many men and women have died defending this nation on the field of battle or "on duty" under the colors of our Flag. We have listed below casualties of war through the years to illustrate the significance of the sacrifice of many for our country. These statistics are humbling in the face of the significance of their sacrifice. 

*United States War Casualties2, 3

Revolutionary War ? 6,188 4,435
War of 1812 286,730 4,505 2,260
Mexican War 78,718 4,152 1,733
Civil War (Both Sides) 3,213,363 354,805 191,963
Spanish American War 306,760 1,662 385
World War I 4,734,991 204,002 53,402
World War II 16,112,566 671,846 291,557
Korean Conflict 5,720,000 103,284 33,651
Vietnam Conflict 8,744,000 153,303 47,378
*The above numbers have qualifying conditions associated with them. See references 2 and 3 below for details if needed.

Flag Etiquette4

*This information was taken from Title 36 of the United States Code Chapter 10 as provided by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University School of Law. The text is a US government document and is public domain; it may be freely copied and retransmitted.

The following flag laws and regulations are contained in the Public Law as amended July 7, 1976 by the 94th Congress of the United States. They set forth the existing rules, customs and etiquette pertaining to the display and use of the flag of the United States of America.

Section 174. Time and Occasions for display; hoisting and lowering

(a) Display on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in open; night display
It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
(b) Manner of hoisting
The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
(c) Inclement weather
The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all weather flag is displayed.
(d) Particular days of display
The flag should be displayed on all days, especially on:
bulletNew Year's Day, January 1
bulletInauguration Day, January 20
bulletLincoln's Birthday, February 12
bulletWashington's Birthday, third Monday in February
bulletEaster Sunday (variable)
bulletMother's Day, second Sunday in May
bulletArmed Forces Day, third Saturday in May
bulletMemorial Day (half-staff until noon), the last Monday in May
bulletFlag Day, June 14
bulletIndependence Day, July 4
bulletLabor Day, first Monday in September
bulletConstitution Day, September 17
bulletColumbus Day, second Monday in October
bulletNavy Day, October 27
bulletVeterans Day, November 11
bulletThanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November
bulletChristmas Day, December 25
bulletand such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States
bulletthe birthdays of States (date of admission)
bulletand on State holidays
(e) Display on or near administration building of public institutions
The flag should be displayed daily on or near the main administration building of every public institution.
(f) Display in or near polling places
The flag should be displayed in or near every polling place on election days.
(g) Display in or near schoolhouses
The flag should be displayed during school days in or near every schoolhouse.

Section 175. Position and manner of display
The flag, when carried in a procession with another flag or flags, should be either on the marching right; that is, the flag's own right, or, if there is a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.

(a) The flag should not be displayed on a float in a parade except from a staff, or as provided in subsection (i) of this section.
(b) The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat. When the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.
(c) No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for the personnel of the Navy. No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States at any place within the United States or any Territory or possession thereof: Provided, That nothing in this section shall make unlawful the continuance of the practice heretofore followed of displaying the flag of the United Nations in a position of superior prominence or honor, and other national flags in positions of equal prominence or honor, with that of the flag of the United States at the headquarters of the United Nations.
(d) The flag of the United States of America, when it is displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the right, the flag's own right, and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.
(e) The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from the staffs.
(f) When flags of States, cities, or localities, or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the United States, the latter should always be at the peak. When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the United States or to the United States flag's right.
(g) When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.
(h) When the flag of the United States is displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle from the window sill, balcony, or front of a building, the union of the flag should be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff. When the flag is suspended over a sidewalk from a rope extending from a house to a pole at the edge of the sidewalk, the flag should be hoisted out, union first, from the building.
(i) When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the observer's left. When displayed in a window, the flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.
(j) When the flag is displayed over the middle of the street, it should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street or to the east in a north and south street.
(k) When used on a speaker's platform, the flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman's or speaker's right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker or to the right of the audience.
(l) The flag should form a distinctive feature of the ceremony of unveiling a statue or monument, but it should never be used as the covering for the statue or monument.
(m) The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff. By order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law. In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States, the Governor of that State, territory, or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff. The flag shall be flown at half-staff thirty days from the death of the President or a former President; ten days from the day of death of the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives; from the day of death until interment, a former Vice President, or the Governor of a State, territory, or possession; and on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress. As used in this subsection -
(1) the term "half-staff" means the position of the flag when it is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff;
(2) the term "executive or military department" means any agency listed under sections 101 and 102 of title 5; and
(3) the term "Member of Congress" means a Senator, a Representative, a Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico.
(n) When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.
(o) When the flag is suspended across a corridor or lobby in a building with only one main entrance, it should be suspended vertically with the union of the flag to the observer's left upon entering. If the building has more than one main entrance, the flag should be suspended vertically near the center of the corridor or lobby with the union to the north, when entrances are to the east and west or to the east when entrances are to the north and south. If there are entrances in more than two directions, the union should be to the east.

Section 176 Respect for flag
No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.

(a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
(b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
(c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
(d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker's desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.
(e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
(f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
(g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.
(h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
(i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff of halyard from which the flag is flown.
(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.
(k) 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.

Section 177. Conduct during hoisting, lowering or passing of flag
During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the flag is passing in a parade of in review, all persons present except for those in uniform should face the flag and stand at attention with the right hand over the heart. Those present in uniform should render the military salute. When not in uniform, men should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Aliens should stand at attention. The salute to the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.

New Legislation

Contacts: Matt Dempsey 202-224-9797
Elizabeth French 202-224-8260

October 14, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, U.S. Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) praised the President's signing of the National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2009, which includes a provision to allow veterans and military members out of uniform to salute the flag during the National Anthem. Senator Inhofe sponsored the amendment to ensure veterans and all members of the Armed Forces be given the right to render a military salute to the United States flag.

The National Defense Authorization Act of Fiscal Year 2009 was approved by unanimous consent in the Senate on Saturday, September 27, and was signed by President Bush today.

"With the President's signature today, we have finally revised the law to give veterans the proper distinction of saluting during the National Anthem," Senator Inhofe said. "The salute is a form of honor and respect, representing pride in one's military service. Veterans and service members continue representing the military services even when not in uniform. The U.S. Code is now consistent for veterans and all service members in regards to the symbolic gesture of the military salute.

"I believe this is an appropriate way to honor and recognize the 25 million veterans in the United States who have served in the military and remain as role models to other citizens. Those who are currently serving or have served in the military have earned this right, and their recognition will be an inspiration to others."

A provision championed by Senator Inhofe in the Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 modified Title 4 of the U.S. Code to allow veterans and military service members not in uniform to render the military salute during hoisting, lowering, or passing of the flag, but it did not allow them to salute the flag during the National Anthem. Section 595 of S. 3001, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2009, amends Title 36 of the U.S. Code to allow veterans and service members not in uniform to salute the flag during the National Anthem, making the two sections of U.S. Code consistent. Senator Inhofe's effort on behalf of America's 25 million veterans has garnered praise from veterans and publications across the country.

"On behalf of America's Medal of Honor Recipients and FlightSafety's teammates in Oklahoma and around the world, we particularly want to commend Senator Inhofe for his successful efforts on the salute the flag legislation. If it were not for Senator Inhofe's commitment, 25 million American veterans would not be able to render the military salute to the American flag," Bruce Whitman, Co-Chairman, Congressional Medal of Honor Foundation and President and CEO, FlightSafety International.

"Senator James Inhofe has served diligently for many years as a veterans advocate in the United States Senate. The Senator's bill amending the United States Code to allow veterans and active duty military personnel to render the military salute when out of uniform gives additional dignity to veterans attending ceremonies that include the formal presentation to the flag of our country. As a Vietnam veteran, I would like to salute the Senator for his years of dedication to our military veterans and to those still on active duty in the defense of our country," Richard Elsheimer, Past State Commander, Department of Oklahoma, Veterans of Foreign Wars. The Enid News and Eagle reported, "Inhofe's proposal makes it clear military people can salute the flag when out of uniform. ...

Veteran Johnny Stamps of Del City praised the legislation, saying he never knew there was a regulation indicating veterans out of uniform should place their arms over their hearts instead of saluting...." (Ron Jenkins, AP, "Veterans Salute Inhofe for Action," July 28, 2007.) On October 17, 2007, The Yukon Review editorial, Sen. Inhofe, Lawmakers Deserve Praise for the Flag Salute Law, commended the legislation saying, "U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and his fellow senators deserve praise for recent passage of S.B. 1877 authorized by Inhofe clarifying U.S. law to allow veterans and service members not in uniform to salute the flag....

We join the senator in looking forward to seeing those who have served saluting proudly at baseball games, parades, and formal events." On July 3, 2008, The Record in New Jersey also noted the bill's importance, "Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., an Army veteran, led the charge, saying those who served earned the right to salute. The change to Section 9 of the code allows military retirees, veterans and active-duty service members who are not in uniform to give the military salute during the hoisting, lowering or passing of the flag. ... ‘People don't realize what that little salute means to a veteran,' said Richard Martin, 65, of Paramus, a Vietnam veteran and commander of the Bergen Chapter 522 of the Military Order of the Purple Heart. "I think it's great."

Additional Web Sites

Military Funeral Customs


1 Flag Image at top of Web Page courtesy Oklahoma University Law School
2 Grolier Inc. Multimedia Encyclopedia. 1998. Adapted by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. 1999. Table Number 25 http:/orl.grolier.com/ea-online/wsja/text/ch02/tables/pp025.htm 
3 LibrarySpot. StartSpot Mediaworks, Inc. Evanston, IL  http://www.libraryspot.com/listwars.htm 
4 Web Site. Brugh, Larry. 2000. http://www.fortunecity.com/boozers/oldhouse/186/etiquette.html 



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Last updated January 11, 2009
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