Posted on 11 Comments

To Light Your American Flag or Not

ustxpowmiaflags.JPGOne option the U.S. Flag Code provides for is flying the American flag 24/7, if properly illuminated. There are many reasons you might consider this option, but I have one compelling reason not to fly your flag 24 hours a day.

10 Reasons for Flying the U.S. flag 24/7

  1. convenience
  2. show of patriotism
  3. constant flying reminder
  4. physical limitations
  5. age limitations
  6. forgetfulness
  7. working hours
  8. sleeping hours
  9. laziness
  10. to outshine the neighbors

Some of these reasons aren’t pleasant, but we all know people that fit into these categories. In the area where Deborah and I live, many of the residents are retired and have physical or age limitations, but they still want to fly the U.S. flag every day. I would never want to take that away from them, so their best option is a lighted flag.

1 Compelling Reason Not to Fly 24/7

It is a twice-a-day reminder.
I put my flag out in the morning and retrieve it in the evening. It’s not always sunrise or sunset because of different circumstances, but one thing is sure. Every time I put my hand to the flag pole, I think about the American flag, the American people, the American soldiers, the American dream, the American society, the American way of life, and the American pride I have in this country.

That happens every time I hoist or lower my flag. If I put a light on it and flew the flag 24/7, I would miss out on those great reminders of this great place to live.

What about you?

Do you fly your flag 24 hour/day? If so, share with us your reasons.

Do you touch the flag twice each day? Do you feel the same things I do?

Please share your experiences with us.

11 thoughts on “To Light Your American Flag or Not

  1. I was informed today, by business, by a retired military person, that the flag is no longer required to be properly illuminated at night!! I find this hard to believe, but he said the law was passed a couple of years ago. Was wanting to see if you can help verify this for me.

    I was passing by the business, and the owner and retired military person was out front. I made a comment to him that they really should remove the flag at night and re-raised during the morning, because the flag does not have lights shining on it. That’s when he explained to me, the law was changed. I indicated to him that I’m going to go read more about that and find out why they would pass such a law.

    If you can help out I would greatly appreciated.

  2. Marty, there have been no changes to the U.S. Flag Code that affects lighting. The Flag Code still requires a light on a flag flying at night. Here is the quote from the Flag Code.

    Section 6(a): 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 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

    If the man can provide a date and bill number for the law he thinks changed this, I will be happy to research or call someone for verification.

  3. I keep it up all day as well. I realize that this is not good, and for the most part makes me overlook what the flag actually means to me 🙁

    Sorry, and I will try and take a new initiative. 🙂

  4. I thought there was some code change around 1975 allowing display at night if illuminated. If memory serves, it grew out of McDonalds pressing the issue so that they could leave flags up 24/7. Am I just dreaming this up? Seems like the result has been a lot of tattered and faded flags flying all the time and not demonstrating much that looks like pride to me.

    1. Greg, there are certainly a lot of flags that are neglected because they are flown 24/7. I don’t recall that McDonald’s had anything to do with flying the U.S. flag 24/7. The bigger the flag though, the more apt it is to be flown continuously—auto dealerships come to mind, and many of them are careless about lowering the flag to half-staff, too. I think it is because the flags are often too large for the pole the flag is displayed on.

  5. Thanks, Deborah.

    So, was there no change to Section 6(a) in the code around 1975 adding the “proper illumination” language?

    I hate to question people’s patriotism, but it seems like the flag received more respect when it was raised and lowered each day. Now, sticking it up there and letting it fly day and night and in all kinds of weather in forlorn condition just seems like “something you do.” Even at government buildings I see tattered flags, and when someone DOES take the flag down, it is often wadded up or slung over the shoulder because proper folding takes two people (and who is going to “waste” time sending TWO people “just” to take the flag down?).

    1. Greg, this link will take you to a fully expanded “Flag Code,” that lists all citations, amendments and the dates. Public Law 94-344 was passed by Congress on July 7, 1976, and updates Section 6. Here is a link that shows all of P.L. 94-344. It is not a government link, but includes the “properly illuminated” language that you are looking for.

      Regarding the triangular folding of the U.S. flag: that is a military tradition. There are no instructions in the U.S. Code’s “Flag Code” which call for and describe this procedure. I have seven flags of my own that I like to fly, and a pole that will take two flags. I cannot put up (or take down) one flag without having the other one draped over my shoulder or forearm, nor can I fold a tight right triangle by myself. I “store” my flags by hanging them (by the grommets) on hooks in the hall at my house. But I could just as easily fold the flags into squares, and set them on a shelf. The is no disrespect to the flag by doing this.

      Thank you for writing, and Best Wishes, Deborah Hendrick

  6. Thanks, Deborah.

    I do appreciate the information. I thought I was remembering 1975, but 1976 isn’t too far off.

    As a private citizen, choosing to fly your own flag, I can’t fault you for draping your flag over your arm or shoulder to get it inside when performing that “duty” alone. I am further not suggesting that full military snapping of the flag smartly into a triangle fold is necessary at public buildings. My beef is that, wadded up, the flag does not look respected to me. Thrown over the shoulder looks barely more so when a public employee walks past citizens in a public place. Given such casual treatment before the public eye, what’s to keep us from imagining it being thrown in a box or dropped on the floor in some closet overnight?

    When we talk about taking pride in our flag, it seems to me that some extra effort needs to be taken to demonstrate that pride. So, it takes two people to do the job in a clearly respectful way at public institutions, is it really that hard to send two employees, volunteers, students, administrators to ensure that the flag remains off of the ground and treated respectfully?

    I do not wish to get into a protracted argument about this. I simply hope that we can find a way to demonstrate through our treatment of our flag how proud we deserve to be of ourselves and of our country.

    Thanks again,

    1. Greg—actually, we are in agreement. You and I think very much alike. I wish schools would form “flag” patrols—groups of young people who would take charge of raising and lower the flag(s), and be willing to teach the younger children about flag etiquette and protocol. It’s one reason I am such a fan of Boy Scouting, because the older boys teach the younger boys—and it’s an extremely effective method. Sadly, so many schools now can barely find enough time to say the Pledge of Allegiance, must less carve out some time for flag etiquette.

      If you belong to a veterans group or civic organization, I encourage you to think about how you and others could encourage schools to be more flag-smart. A short flag “class” or assembly could be quite educational.

  7. I read A publication from The VFW That if the Flag Is Displayed at night it must be lit with a white Light such as Halogen or mercury vapor. It said when lit with Sodium lighting the yellow color alters the colors of The Red White & Blue
    Any-one Have any Feed back on This

    1. A “white” light probably would make the colors of the flag look more true, but the U.S. Flag Code was written long before such distinctions in lighting became possible. Certainly the VFW is free to make lighting recommendations, but it’s not part of the Code. Thank you for writing, Mr. Jenkins, and Best Wishes. Deborah Hendrick

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