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Half-staff flags September 11



kitty-hawk-half-staffed-flag On September 11, 2001, America experienced the worst terrorist attack in her history when nearly 3,000 men, women, and children were taken from us, leaving their families and our Nation with a void that can never be filled. But those who brought hate to our shores and smoke to our skies did not expect our country to emerge stronger, and our beacons of hope and freedom to shine brighter as a result.  In the years since, we have stood strong as one people ‑‑ determined to further embolden our country’s character with acts of endurance and strength; rebuilding and resilience; renewal and progress.  In remembrance of the innocent victims who lost their lives and in honor of the families they left behind, let us continue to answer these heinous acts by serving our communities, lifting the lives of our fellow citizens, and spreading the hope that others tried to dim that day.

By a joint resolution approved December 18, 2001 (Public Law 107-89), the Congress has designated September 11 of each year as “Patriot Day,” and by Public Law 111-13, approved April 21, 2009, the Congress has requested the observance of September 11 as an annually recognized “National Day of Service and Remembrance.”

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim September 11, 2016, as Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance. I call upon all departments, agencies, and instrumentalities of the United States to display the flag of the United States at half-staff on Patriot Day and National Day of Service and Remembrance in honor of the individuals who lost their lives on September 11, 2001



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Antique American flags link our history

A thirteen star flag from the Bridgman collection.
A thirteen star flag from the Bridgman collection.

Antique American flags link our history to the present. Antique American flags and other textile memorabilia were featured this summer in Town & Country magazine. Antiquities dealer Jeff Bridgman showcased some of his rarest pieces and provided commentary on them in this Town & Country article.

While there are variations on the Stars and Stripes, which changed in number throughout the 19th Century as new states joined the union, the mix also includes a rare colorful militia flag designed by Tiffany & Co. valued at $350,000, and the Declaration of Independence woven into a kerchief, circa 1826.

Want to see more flags? Here is a video from Vimeo that features Bridgman talking about antique American flags and other textiles.





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Not found in the Flag Code

What the Flag Code doesn’t say

ScreenHunter_251 Jun. 24 15.44

There were a lot of news stories last week about flag retirement ceremonies, held in conjunction with Flag Day. Here are excerpts from three that I found especially troubling due to misinformation.  I edited them to remove names and other identifying information because I like these people and I don’t want to embarrass them: Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, and the American Legion.

What the Flag Code says about retiring our American flag is short and succinct:

§8. Respect for flag:  (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.

We are given great latitude in how we conduct flag retirements. I am very grateful to the organizations that conduct these ceremonies; it is an honorable and welcome service that they perform. But imagine my surprise when I found a news story about a flag retirement ceremony that said this,

“ … the scouts recently participated in a flag retirement ceremony. This ceremony is necessary when a flag has become too worn to be displayed. In these cases, the respectful way to dispose of the  flag is for it to be burned. Only three entities can officially retire a flag. They are VFW posts, Scout troops and American Legion posts.” 

What? That’s not what the Flag Code says. Anyone can retire the flag. The Daughters of the American Revolution would be quite surprised to be told they can’t retire their own flags. I frequently encourage families to have their own flag retirement ceremonies. Get the children to write some sweet script, and take a moment to talk about important flags in American history.  I am willing to trust the average American to retire his own flag. We are all official when it comes to retiring the flag.

From another news story:

 “The various elements of the flag … The stars, the red and white stripes and the blue background are included on the flag for a specific purpose.  Once the description has been read, the flag is cut apart.

The stars are saved and will be presented to veterans at a later date [ … ]. The stripes are individually cut off the flag and placed in a fire. The fire container must only be used for flag retirement and nothing else. During the burning portion of the ceremony, no one is to speak and silence has to be maintained out of respect.  [ … ]  Flags are burned one at a time and only after a flag is completely burned will the next one be burned. Silence is observed throughout the entire ceremony.

In the Flag Code, directly above Subsection (k) is Subsection (j) which says [ … ] The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. [ … .]

If the flag is “considered a living thing,” then dismembering a flag so old and worn out that it’s ready for retirement is rather egregious in my opinion. The flag has already served in honor—now it’s faded, ripped and torn, tattered on the fly.  Isn’t that enough?

And why would cutting out the stars and saving them (set aside to be given away later) be more important than the stripes? The flag was never meant to be parceled out in bits and pieces. That’s why we set it on fire in a ceremony, and burn it to ashes. Otherwise we could be making quilts out of the stripes—or kites, and patriotically flying them on the 4th of July.

Our most popular flag myth

And I read this:

 “ … flags should be retired for a number of reasons. The first indication a flag has become unserviceable is faded colors, but [ … ]  a flag should be retired if it has touched the ground. It’s just been a principle of the flag etiquette for years in the country, which is to keep all flags from touching the ground … . “

“When it comes to proper disposal, [ … ] it’s best to leave it to the experts [said the American Legion commander, who ] discourages anyone from burning their own flag, and invites area residents to turn their worn out flags over to the American Legion or any other veterans organization.”

No where in the Flag Code does it say that if a flag touches the ground, it should be destroyed. Yes, every effort should be made to keep the flag from touching the ground and other things beneath it (landscaping for example, and automobiles at giant car dealerships), but destroying a perfectly good flag is unnecessary, and not supported by the text. I am certain if those who codified the Flag Code meant for us to retire a dropped flag, they would have mentioned it specifically.

Flags fall down. Home flags mounted on diagonal poles are especially vulnerable to being blown out of the mount. The wind can pull one out of your hands while putting it up or taking it down (it’s happened to me). It’s a good idea to have a back up flag, if the flag does get dirty, but it doesn’t have to be destroyed, it just needs to be laundered or sent to the dry cleaners.

From the same newspaper article:

How to properly retire a U.S. flag:  Once a U.S. flag becomes worn, frayed or dirty, the flag is considered unserviceable and unable to properly fly. In order to suitably retire a U.S. or other American national flag, several procedures are to be followed in order to avoid any disrespect or desecration. According to the Veterans Department of Affairs and U.S. Flag Code, here are the steps to burn a flag: (my italics–DH)

1. Prepare a fire large enough to sufficiently burn the entire flag.

2. Fold the flag in a customary triangle manner.

3. Place the flag on the fire carefully and respectfully.

4. Individuals should salute or recite the Pledge of Allegiance, as well as observe a moment of silence.

5. Allow the flag to be completely consumed.

6. Once the fire is cool, collect the ashes and any pieces of the flag.

7. Bury the ashes.

[The American Legion commander said] “ in order to ensure the flag is disposed properly, the flag must be given to a veteran’s organization. [He] encourages anyone with an unserviceable flag to donate it to any local American Legion post.

The Department of Veterans Affairs compiled a 52-page booklet about American history, veterans, the flag, and the scope of the department. No where in the booklet does it say anything about flag retirement ceremonies except to repeat the same section from the Flag Code:

§8. Respect for flag:  (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.

Lastly, from the American Legion’s own website, in a section called Flag Myths, it identifies this myth:

You must destroy the flag when it touches the ground.
As long as the flag remains suitable for display, the flag may continue to be displayed as a symbol of our great country.

As I said at the beginning, I am grateful to civic and service organizations who perform the job of retiring our American flags. It’s an important service and it’s a big job, too. And they can choose any ceremony they want, but please make sure your script says, “This is how we like to retire the flag,” because it’s highly inappropriate and misleading to say “this is what the Flag Code says” when it doesn’t.

And don’t tell me I can’t retire my own flag.













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Condo association and The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005

American flag on white house

Betty has some questions about flying the American flag at condos.

I am in a new condo development, where we are developing rules. Each building is a duplex of 2 patio homes. Can we restrict the display to one flag per duplex mounted on a specific wall shared by both units? Given the design, there is no room to display a flag near the front door or patio.  Also, can the association require, at the homeowners expense, that a specific bracket be used and installed by an approved contractor? Surface is brick, placement is crucial and proper drill bits are needed to preserve the integrity if the brick.

American flag on white house
U.S. flag on white house with tree

Hi Betty. The condo development is very smart to consider these ideas in a pro-active way. The goal of the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005  was protect both the homeowners and property management, but there are still problems in execution.

The law protects each homeowner, so limiting a duplex to one (shared) flag would be a violation of the law. And I think there would be problems with ownership, responsibility, maintenance, et cetera with a shared flag. The owner in Side A might be willing to buy the best flag available, and the owner in Side B might be satisfied with buying a flag from a road-side vendor.

Certainly the condo association can enact specific rules regarding installing a flag mount, but if the rules are onerous, they will be challenged. As you are doubtless aware, there have been numerous stories this summer about homeowners running afoul of their HOA over flying the American flag. The negative publicity to the HOAs and management companies has been terrible, even when they were in compliance with the law, and the homeowner was not.

A necessary tension exists between the homeowner and the HOA or condo association. The homeowner’s right to display an American flag is absolute, but the “management” has a fiduciary responsibility to the entire development, and does have the right to set reasonable standards.

What if the condo development association bought top-quality flag mounts and installed them at each condo, precisely where they wanted them, as a courtesy to each homeowner. If the homeowner doesn’t want to display a flag—no problem (just ignore the flag mount), and for those who want to fly a flag, the flag mount is already there. The condo standards are maintained, and the homeowner has a choice in his flag purchase.

For what it’s worth, the facings on garage doors are a popular area for flag mounts. I see it quite often in condo and townhouse locations.

The text of the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 can be found in Section 5 of the U.S. Flag Code.

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National POW/MIA Recognition Day to be celebrated September 18, 2009

POW_MIA_flag The third Friday in September is honored as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

The flag is flown in the full-staff position on this day. While the law addresses flying the POW/MIA flag on federal installations only (see the link above), civilians should fly the POW/MIA flag directly beneath the U.S. flag on the same pole. State flags should not be flown on the same pole on these occasions.

I am not a member of the National League of Families, but I think those who are would remind us all that is not an occasion of mourning. This is a day to be filled with hope and determination, and to remember that there is still much work to be done. From the League of Families website:

UPDATE:  September 2, 2009

AMERICANS ACCOUNTED FOR:  There are now 1,731 US personnel listed by the Defense POW/MIA Office (DPMO) as missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.  The number of US personnel accounted for since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is now 852.  During the League’s 40th Anniversary Annual Meeting, a League member announced that she had just received confirmation from JPAC that remains recovered earlier had been identified as those of her brother, MSGT Donald C. Grella, USA, of Nebraska, listed KIA/BNR on December 28, 1965 in South Vietnam.  Also now accounted for from that same incident are WO2 Jesse D.  Phelps of Idaho and CPL Thomas Rice, Jr. of South Carolina, both also US Army and initially listed as KIA/BNR.  Three Air Force personnel whose names were released as accounted for are Capt Robert J. Edgar of Florida, listed MIA in Laos on 2/5/68, remains repatriated 5/27/97 and identified 4/28/09; Maj Curtis D. Miller of Texas, listed MIA in Laos on 3/29/72, remains repatriated 8/2/06 and identified 2/12/08; and LtCol Russell A. Poor of Indiana, listed MIA in North Vietnam on 2/4/67, remains repatriated 6/14/07 and identified 5/26/08.  To each of these families, the League offers understanding and the hope that these concrete answers bring long-awaited peace of mind.  Of the 1,731 men still missing, 90% were lost in Vietnam or areas of Laos and Cambodia under Vietnam’s wartime control.

You can help:  National League of Families

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Texas legislature passes protocol for folding the Lone Star flag

horse and ride with Texas flag Last October on The Daily Flag, I wrote an article titled Texas Fold ‘Em, about folding the Texas flag. The gist of the article was that there was not an official way to fold the flag, although state offices have traditionally folded it the same way the U.S. flag is folded.

Early this summer, the Texas legislature passed a bill that codifies a protocol for folding the flag, and now Texans have an official method for folding the Lone Star Flag.

Authored by Sen. Judith Zaffirini of Laredo, and Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio, the legislation goes into effect September 1, 2009.

SECTION 1.  Requires that this Act be known as the Rod Welsh Act, in honor of Rod Welsh, Sergeant-at-Arms of the Texas House of Representatives, who is primarily responsible for developing the method of folding the state flag of Texas established by this Act.

SECTION 2.  Amends Subchapter B, Chapter 3100, Government Code, by adding Section 3100.073, as follows:

Sec. 3100.073.  FOLDED STATE FLAG.  (a)  Provides that the state flag should be folded as follows: fold the flag in half lengthwise with the red stripe facing upward, fold the flag in half lengthwise once more, concealing the red stripe on the inside of the fold,  position the flag with the white star facing downward and the blue stripe facing upward,  fold the corner with the white stripe to the opposite side of the flag to form a triangle, continue folding the corners over in triangles until the resulting fold produces a blue triangle with a portion of the white star visible, and  secure all edges into the folds.

(b)  Provides that a folded state flag should be presented or displayed with all folded edges secured and with the blue stripe and a portion of the white star visible.

(c)  Provides that a folded state flag should be stored or displayed in a manner that prevents tearing or soiling of the flag.

SECTION 3.  Effective date: September 1, 2009.

Photo Credit: from the musical “Texas” in Palo Duro Canyon, Canyon Tx

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Ten flags fly, in “The Oregonian” flag contest

DKH_08 The Daily Flag previously linked here and here, to The Oregonian’s articles about its contest to design a new state flag for Oregon. From thousands of entries, the newspaper has chosen ten finalists for its readers to vote on, and those designs can be viewed at The Oregonian’s website.

My choice? I didn’t actually vote, because I don’t live in Oregon. But I like this one. It respects the past with a traditional, yet modern design. And it looks the same from both sides, which is important in Oregon.

Jaymes Walker flag designJaymes Walker , 55, Northeast Portland, a landscape designer
The process: “I purposefully kept this flag simple in order for it to represent all of Oregon.” What it means: The “O” stands for Oregon, and is doubled. The incoming stripes frame the letter and strengthen the image to show the strength and solidarity. Blue and gold, the state colors, represent the Pacific Ocean and western Oregon; and the high desert and wheat fields of eastern Oregon. Note that the colors could be reversed.

Hat Tip to Oregonian Ted Kaye, of NAVA—North American Vexillological Association.

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Star-Spangled Banner is the star of the show

DKH_05After a decade’s conservation, the flag that inspired the National Anthem returns to its place of honor on the National Mall.

By Robert M. Poole for Smithsonian magazine, November 2008

starspangledbanner_nov08_520 Long before it flew to the moon, waved over the White House or was folded into tight triangles at Arlington National Cemetery; before it sparked fiery Congressional debates, reached the North Pole or the summit of Mount Everest; before it became a lapel fixture, testified to the Marines’ possession of Iwo Jima, or fluttered over front porches, firetrucks and construction cranes; before it inspired a national anthem or recruiting posters for two world wars, the American ensign was just a flag.


For the rest of Robert M. Poole’s splendid story in Smithsonian magazine, go here.

On Wednesday, President George Bush and First Lady Laura Bush dedicated the renovated National Museum of American History. Today is the grand opening to the public, with retired Gen. Colin Powell scheduled to read President Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.

The original Star-Spangled Banner—the one that flew over Fort McHenry and inspired America’s National Anthem—had long been displayed in the museum, but for the past ten years it has been in the hands of conservationists, who have carefully preserved the fragile flag.

starspangledbanner_nov08_7Now it is beautifully displayed again in a specially designed gallery and enclosure that will protect this national treasure. starspangledbanner_nov08_8

All photography from the Smithsonian web site.

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Run for the Fallen honors four soldiers in Healing Field Memorial

Last month The Daily Flag received a question about flag precedence, etiquette and protocol, which is routine, but for the event in question, it was not.

It was for the “Run for the Fallen,” to the Healing Field Memorial at Patriot Park in Cathedral City, California, sponsored by the Cathedral City Rotary Club and Cathedral City.

The “run” was a motorcycle parade, lead by motorcyclists bearing four American flags in honor of four local soldiers who had fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There is a wealth of information about how to carry the flags in a parade, but when the flags are borne by motorcycle riders, extra care must be taken, and the members of these motorcycle riding clubs wanted to make sure they carried these flags of honor properly.

Vet Parade 2008

The Run for the Fallen motorcycle procession was held by a consortium of local motorcycle riding clubs, with riders on 175 motorcycles from The American Legion Riders of Palm Springs, the Desert Riders Association, and the Palm Springs Harley Owners Group.

The riding clubs carried the four U.S. flags in honor of SPC Jason Chappell, 1st Lt. Joshua M. Palmer,       PFC Ming Sun, and Corporal Jesus Gonzales, who were from the area in and around Cathedral City.

1 Run for the FallenDuring the Healing Field Memorial, the 4,248 names of American service men and women were read. The National Anthem was sung by legendary band leader Buddy Greco and his wife, Lezlie Anders.

The Cathedral City High School Symphonic Band, and the United States Marine Corps Band from the Air Ground Combat Center in Twenty-nine Palms performed.

Guest speaker was Gunnery Sgt. Christopher W. Cox, U.S. Marine Corps.



imagew2.aspxMore photographs can be seen at The Desert Riders Association website.


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The Daily Flag News—October 22, 2008

The Daily Flag presents a great trio of flag stories today, across the nation from the east coast to our western-most state (where I would like to be, because I love Kona coffee, and those creamy Macadamia nuts drenched in chocolate, swaying palm trees, aqua-white surf on a brilliant sun-lit beach … oh yeah, I could produce The Daily Flag from there).



Our town’s colorful history (or where did we find that black and gold?)

By Patricia Lowry, Sunday, February 26, 2006


Hey there, you in the black-and-gold sweat shirt, jacket, baseball cap, socks and probably underwear: Any idea why you’re not wearing, say, red and black or blue and white?

Well, says you, Pittsburgh’s colors are black and gold.

Right, but have you any idea why?

Not a clue, says you.

Then allow me to buy you one: One hundred and seven years ago this week, a committee of Pittsburgh councilmen rejected blue and white, red and black, and a number of other chromatic pairs and settled on black and gold as appropriate colors for the city flag.

Post-Gazette Illustration by Stacy Innerst. 

For the rest of this educational story, go to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Hat Tip to TDF Friend Fred Goodwin of San Antonio, for this colorful story.


DKH_35What’s the story behind Hawaii’s flag?

by Chris Bailey,  October 21, 2008



is_that_the_flagYou ask. We answer.
Pat Duffus of Clearwater, Florida writes: What is the story behind the Hawaiian flag? When I see it I am reminded more of Britain than Hawaii. Is there a Hawaiian flag that precedes it?

Pat’s right about the British connection. King Kamehameha I flew a British flag throughout his kingdom in the late 18th century, given to him as a token of friendship from fellow ruler King George III.
However, during the War of 1812, an American flag was raised over Kamehameha’s home to placate American interests. It was soon removed after British officers in Kamehameha’s court opposed to it.

Instead, Kamehameha commissioned a new flag—one that incorporated elements of both nations.

For the rest of this story, go to HAWAI’I MAGAZINE.COM.

By the way, I’m bookmarking this magazine website. They have volcano news!



Flag flying again, thanks to precision steeplejack

By DeAnn Smith, October 22, 2008

O’ say, does that Star-Spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the Kansas City Council? Yes it is does again today after being MIA for three-plus months. All thanks to a third-generation steeplejack who flew in yesterday from California.

O’ say, does that Star-Spangled banner yet wave, o’er the land of the free and the home of the Kansas City Council? Yes it is does again today after being MIA for three-plus months. All thanks to a third-generation steeplejack who flew in yesterday from California.

The wind was blowing hard. A news chopper hovered overhead as a clutch of rooftop spectators stared up as Jim Phelan swayed on a flagpole 520 feet above the street.

It took about 90 minutes but when Phelan was done, the 15-by-10-foot Old Glory was waving again atop the roof at City Hall for the first time in months.

Photography by Todd Feeback for the Kansas City Star

For the rest of this dizzying story, more photographs, and video, go to the Kansas City Star