The Proper Standard: Displaying the Flag: Typical Outdoor Use

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The Proper Standard authors Ross and Hunter Simmons

While there is no greater symbol of freedom world-wide than “Old Glory,” the authors believe that its patriotic display is only mildly more inconvenient, but far more reverent and appropriate, if done compliant with federal law and consistent with the Rules of Flag Etiquette.

Displaying the Flag: Typical Outdoor Use

 Section 6 of the Flag Code provide guidance as to the times and occasions for displaying the Flag of the United States of America in the ordinary course out of doors.  It calls for display on stationary flagstaffs that are in the open and clearly visible.  In raising the flag, it should be hoisted or posted briskly.  Conversely, it is to be lowered or removed ceremoniously.  There are special rules regarding how to hoist and lower at half-staff.

Aside from all other rules permitting display, it is improper to display the flag on days of inclement weather.  This is to say that the flag should be lowered and stowed on rainy days.  It may be displayed in this circumstance, however, if adequately protected from the elements, or otherwise constructed of specific “all weather” materials.

By universal custom, the flag should only be displayed from sunrise to sunset.  For those who know this rule, there are few feelings more disheartening than the lifeless flag standing neglected in the pitch of night, and this is the most often overlooked rule of residential patriots who would prefer avoiding daily hoisting and lowering.  For them, the Rules of Flag Etiquette provide an exception for the compliant-minded:  “When a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.”

The flag should be displayed daily on or near the main administration building of every public institution, in or near every polling place on election days, and in or near schoolhouses during school days.

Question: The school in my neighborhood did not hoist the flag today. What’s up?

Answer: We reviewed the weather conditions in your neighborhood, and learned that there were scattered showers that day. Most likely the flag was not displayed in view of the inclement weather, which is not only appropriate but required. By the way, if you have questions as to the display or non-display of the flag in practice by a public institution, most are very receptive to your constructive input, and you should feel comfortable broaching the subject. Most public institutions have a specific reason for their approach to flag display, or will be appreciative of learning more from the public.

Authors Ross Simmons and his son, Hunter, are life members of the National Eagle Scout Association, and Ross is Scoutmaster at Imperial’s Troop 4070. Have a question of Flag Etiquette? Please submit your questions or photos to submit@properstandard.com. (By submitting, you’re licensing content for use.)