This article is part of the "Flying the flag right" series and is an overview of the ten sections of the U.S. Flag Code. It is my attempt to demystify the Code and make it easier to understand. Much of the Flag Code isn’t for the average flag flyer, and isn’t something to fret about.
Some parts of the Code address executive office privileges, and standards for manufacturers, which doesn’t affect most of us.
(But do take the time to inspect any new flag before you fly it, and make sure is has the right number of stripes and that the stars are pointing up.)
U.S. Flag Code Overview
With that in mind, let’s look at each section of the Code and determine our need to know.
Section 1: Describes the flag and gives its proper dimensions (You know what it looks like … right?). This is relevant if you manufacture flags, but not for the flying part. Don’t worry about this one.
Section 2: Addresses adding stars as new states enter the Union. This is taken care of automatically and when it happens, you’ll have plenty of notice. No matter the date of entry for a new state, the new star isn’t added until the following July 4th. Don’t worry about this one.
Section 3: Admonishes users not to mutilate the flag or use it for advertising (you weren’t going to do this anyway… right?). Originally this was only for the District of Columbia, but that restriction was removed in 1968. It now applies to everyone, but if your desire is to fly the flag right—You shouldn’t worry about this one.
Section 4: Gives the protocol for saying the Pledge of Allegiance (we learned this in grade school). Simply put, face the flag and put your right hand over your heart, then stand still while reciting the Pledge. This one is elementary.
Section 5: Explains that the document is for civilians, not government or military (They have their own flag code). I promise, that’s all it says, but you can follow the link to confirm that. It’s short and easy to read, so don’t worry about this one.
Section 6: Tells us when to fly the flag. I’ll cover this in the next article of this series.
Section 7: Tells us where to fly the flag in relation to other flags. This will also be part of the next article.
Section 8: Tells us how to fly the flag with respect. This is part of the next article, as well.
Section 9: Instructions for behavior during the raising and lowering of the flag Simply put—Be on your best behavior.
Section 10: The President of the United States can modify the law by signing a proclamation. This is the easiest of all since we’re not the President, and in my case … not a future likelihood. I am sure you don’t have to worry about this one.
The conclusion is that you only need to concern yourself with the three sections in the middle to fly the U.S. flag right. These three sections are wordy, but I’ll see if I can break them down to the essentials in the next article. If you just want to fly the U.S. flag properly, it isn’t that difficult when you get back to the basics.
By the way, the picture accompanying this article was taken in El Lago, Texas, from the road in front of an apartment complex. I love this photograph because it is a perfect example of correct flag flying. From the street and left to right: U.S. flag, State flag, and corporate flag.