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Archive -‘Flag Etiquette’

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As you head out to enjoy your various activities today, I thought I would re-vitalize an old post on general “parade etiquette” for those who may be attending such ceremonial events on this 237th anniversary of our country.


  • Our American Flag:  While everyone may have been raised differently and told different rules regarding how we show respect for our American flag, any measure of respect is certainly better than none.  More often than not, when the Color Guard begins the parade, I rarely see anyone saluting the flag or removing their hat.  That being said, no one expects you to do so every time a band comes marching through.  It should be apparent that the first sighting of the American flag in the parade, respect should be shown in the form of  either your hand over your heart or saluting the flag as it passes….and ALWAYS remove your hat – men and women.  Many have paid a dear price in the name of the American flag and you can be sure, every veteran on that parade route is watching…and hurting….by the lack of respect shown for the sacrifices he/she made.


  • View Blocking:  Everyone wants to see the parade; unfortunately, everyone can’t have the front row.  Early settlers claim their spots, sometimes with chairs or just blankets on which to sit or stand.  The problem comes in when small children are behind all the big people (even those with children of their own).  Try to be considerate of the excitement a child has in seeing the bands, floats and firetrucks.  On occasion, scoot aside and offer the child a chance to grab a peek in front of you…after all, etiquette is about consideration and gracious moments.


  • Reserving Space:  As mentioned earlier, many will arrive as early as possible to claim their spot but keep in mind, the street and sidewalk are public property and available to all.  No one has a “right” to a spot if they leave to go get beer.  If you vacate your spot, it is not “reserved” so unless you have other family members with you to occupy it for you, don’t expect it to be available upon your return.


  • Speaking of Beer:  Where I grew up, I have to admit, alcohol was a HUGE part of parade fun.  Of course, New Orleans is quite different from any other place in the world. Most states have laws prohibiting alcohol, depending on the city ordinances and liability issues.  Then again, many events will allow drinking out of plastic containers.  The point is….while social drinking and sharing fun times with friends at an event is commonplace, it is imperative to remember that there are children all around.  Know your limit.  Nothing is more crass than a loud, sloppy drunk screaming profanities at the marching band because he doesn’t like the piece they’re playing.  Such behavior can turn ugly….when Daddy’s little girl is asking what the “F” word means.


  • Ouch! That’s My Hand You’re Smashing!:  Again, in the Big Easy, you WILL get your hands and feet stomped on, smashed, broken and bruised.  ”Dem doubloons  is like gold to da cajun folk and you will get hurt trying to claim your prize”!  Around the rest of the world, most parades don’t “throw things” out to the crowds, but some do.  For instance, in New Orleans at the St. Patrick’s Day parade, you can expect to catch cabbages and potatoes hurling through the air, green beads, doubloons (these are little metal coins with the name of the parade embossed on them and some are actually collectibles).  If you’re at a parade where candy, nik-naks, etc. are being thrown to the crowds, don’t stomp your foot on the item to claim it, lest you crush someone’s hand that was going for it at the same time.  It’s first to the product that gets it so back off and acquiesce.


  • Blocking Businesses and Driveways:  Yes, it’s hard to find  a parking spot for a big fun parade but blocking someone’s business or a resident’s driveway is absolutely unacceptable.  Just because they live or work on the parade route does not give you free reign to park and run.  Sometimes, if it’s worth it to you, offering payment for such a privilege is an option.  One never knows if the owner is interested in the premium dollar just to have a car sitting for a few hours.  If you find yourself in such desperate need, and the owner is outside, politely approach and ask with a smile and good nature if their “space” is for rent.  The worst they can say is no.  Never disturb the resident or business owner by knocking on their door or interrupting their business for such a measure.


  • Backpacks:  If you’re traveling with a backpack, and it’s a good idea since you’ll not want to leave your spot if you can help it, try to keep it in front of you and lowered rather than slung on your back; chances are someone behind you will be getting bumped and swiped by your big wad of canvas every time you move.  Again….consideration is key.


  • Litter:  It should go without saying that leaving your litter behind is just plain rude and disrespectful of the very public property to which you’ve been given the opportunity to enjoy such events.  Clean up your mess. …and teach your children the same.


It’s football season…and that means a lot more football than I remember.  Sunday NFL, Monday Night Football, Thursday Night Football…Saturday NCAA and who knows when else.  I do love to hear the excitement in our home as the plays happen and my husband and son chatter endlessly about stats, players, calls, coaches and “what about those wings Mom” and “aren’t there more chips and salsa?”. 

However, with the football season comes the beautiful exposure to our nation’s anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.

So, the question is…”Should you stand for a televised version of the National Anthem?”

Firstly, let me say, that I do choose to stand when the National Anthem is played on TV.  When I hear the call “would everyone please stand for our National Anthem”, I consider myself part of the crowd, even if removed from said crowd.  For me, it is a matter of respect to be silent, aware, and to meditate for those few moments on what the words mean as the anthem is played or sung.

Secondly, that being said, to my knowledge, there is no specific etiquette rule for standing in one’s home for a televised version of the anthem.  It is one’s personal choice as to whether they wish to honor the flag that is flown or displayed on the field during the anthem.  In no way does the choice NOT to stand, diminish one’s patriotism; however, respectful silence during the playing of the anthem should be practiced.  I find it so disheartening when people continue talking, chattering, enjoying the football food/beer, etc. without ceasing for those few moments to show respect.

The US Flag Code stipulates:

§171. Conduct during playing

During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should render the military salute at the first note of the anthem and retain this position until the last note. When the flag is not displayed, those present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed there.

So this season, as you’re enjoying the excitement of the games, decide if and how you would like to show honor and respect during a televised version of the National Anthem and discuss it with your children. They will learn from you by your actions.


The flag of the United States is a living symbol that calls to our spirit, reminding us of the greatness of America. We cherish and uphold it because it is the standard of honor under which we live.  The proper name of the nation’s symbol is the United States Flag; however, it is sometimes referred to as “Old Glory”.

Well, as many of you know, I just never tire of extolling the rules, regulations, respect and etiquette regarding the United States Flag, however, today, I’d like to focus on a few rules of etiquette regarding display…and behavior…if you are planning on attending any of the hundreds of military and celebratory Memorial Day weekend parades and events.


  1. According to, on Memorial Day, the flag is to be flown at half-staff until noon, and then at full-staff until sunset.
  1. The flag should be down at sunset, unless you have it properly illuminated, in which case it may remain raised throughout the night.
  2. When raising the flag to half-staff, first raise it quickly to full-staff, then slowly down to half-staff.
  3. When flown or carried alongside other flags (such as state flags), The United States Flag should always be higher than the other flags.
  4. Flags on floats must be on a staff or against a wall (correctly oriented, with the union—the blue field of stars, to the left), not draped on the float.
  5. The United States Flag should never be draped over a vehicle of any kind.
  6. If display the flag on vehicles, the flag must be on a staff firmly fixed so that it will not fall over.
  7. “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.” (Title 36, Chapter 10 of the U. S.Code)
  8. “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.” (Title 36, Chapter 10 of the U.S. Code)
  9. Flags suspended over the street  should be suspended vertically with the union to the north on an east/west street or to the east on a north/south street.
  10. “During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present except 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.” (Title 36, Chapter 10).

I hope you will have a blessed and memorable Memorial Day weekend and that should you attend memorial services on sacred military burial grounds or enjoying a festive parade, that these few tips will help you to show the respect and honor deserving of our brave veterans. 

ps:  Don’t forget to bring your own miniature flag to wave in glory and/or to place on a military burial site as  needed.



I am a true patriot.  I actually get out of my chair in my home office when I hear the National Anthem and move into the family room to stand respectfully and listen.  Yes….this is a “sports home” around here and my husband and son are ALWAYS watching SOMETHING that usually involves the National Anthem….and in this house…we respect that.  So…stop chomping on your Doritos, take off your team’s hat, and take a moment to STAND…and LISTEN…it’s quite beautiful and moving to listen to our National Anthem. 

Now…enough about how we do it at home….what about the teams…the coaches….the fans…the media? How can I raise and teach my son to respect the National Anthem if while he is standing and listening, he sees players chewing gum (or chew), or scratching (yep, I’ve seen it), or worse yet, chattering to a player next to them (seen that too).  

What about the fans?  I seriously despise when all the fans begin to rant and rave and cheer before the National Anthem has finished.  I don’t care how excited they are about the game…really…you can’t wait for the final two lines before you drown out the vocalist.  It’s not about their talent…or stardom…it’s about The Anthem. 

Can we just get back to place of respect…less than 3 minutes of our time…to respectfully listen, imagine, and view…Old Glory…with all the respect she deserves. 

With a range of one and a half octaves, it is known for being difficult to sing. Although the song has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today, with the fourth (“O! thus be it ever when free men shall stand…”) added on more formal occasions.[2] The fourth stanza includes the line “And this be our motto: In God is our Trust”.[3] The United States adopted “In God We Trust” as its national motto in 1956.  (Source – 

So….I give you…my own etiquette tips for the National Anthem:

  • Remove your hat – male or female:  Yes, in the old days women didn’t have to do so…but hats were pinned and tethered and formal….nowadays, girls/women are wearing team caps, remove them.
  • If you are wearing a hat, place the hat across your heart with the inside of the hat facing your heart.
  • Address the flag – and no one or anything else.
  • Stop chewing.
  • Stop talking.
  • Stop moving/rocking.
  • Military members in uniform will salute the flag from the first note of the National Anthem until the last note is played.
  • Military members NOT in uniform, may also salute the flag throughout the Anthem.
  • All others will place their right hand over their heart for the duration of the Anthem.
  • Sing along if you desire – it will bring you closer to the history.  Do not be intimidated by celebrity power singers.  Contrary to some of them making it all about themselves, it is not…it is for you to honor your country… so please – sing along. It was stated in the 1942 National Anthem Committee, which wrote, “Since the message of the music is greatly heightened by the test, it is of paramount importance that emphasis be placed upon the singing of the National Anthem.”
  • While there is no “legal punishment” for NOT upholding these rules of etiquette, it is about “respect” so, put out the cigarette, put down your soda or beer, put your hand or your hat over your heart, eyes on the flag, and sing your heart out!



For more than 200 years, the American flag has been the symbol of our nation’s strength and unity. It’s been a source of pride and inspiration for millions of citizens. TheAmerican Flag has been a prominent icon in our national history. Here are the highlights of its unique past.On January 1, 1776, the Continental Army was reorganized in accordance with a Congressional resolution which placed American forces under George Washington’s control. On that New Year’s Day the Continental Army was laying siege to Boston which had been taken over by the British Army. Washington ordered the Grand Union flag hoisted above his base at Prospect Hill. It had 13 alternate red and white stripes and the British Union Jack in the upper left-hand corner (the canton).

In May of 1776, Betsy Ross reported that she sewed the first American flag.

On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.”

Between 1777 and 1960, Congress passed several acts that changed the shape, design and arrangement of the flag and allowed for additional stars and stripes to be added to reflect the admission of each new state.

  • Act of January 13, 1794 – provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.
  • Act of April 4, 1818 – provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state, signed by President Monroe.
  • Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 – established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward.
  • Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated January 3, 1959 – provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically.
  • Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated August 21, 1959 – provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizontally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.

Today the flag consists of thirteen horizontal stripes, seven red alternating with 6 white. The stripes represent the original 13 colonies, the stars represent the 50 states of the Union. The colors of the flag are symbolic as well: Red symbolizes Hardiness and Valor, White symbolizes Purity and Innocence and Blue represents Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice.

If you have suggestions, comments or questions about any current or historical American Flags, visit this discussion board . USA Flag Site does not sell flags. Visit American Flagpole & Flag as a good source of American Flags for sale.

This post permitted by:   USA Flag Site

Village News article on Flag Etiquette

Flag etiquette and protocol entails a variety of codes that apply to state and military flags. Wikipedia lists several rules of respect that are outlined in the U.S. Flag Code.

When flying the United States of America flag, one may also refer to the National Flag Foundation to answer a multitude of questions from folding, raising and lowering, displaying on vehicles, flag groupings, half-staff ceremony, and more.  The American Flag is a living symbol of our country and represents the past and present sacrifices for freedom and liberty.  It is an honor to fly my American flag high upon it’s mast in dedication to those sacrifices and to respect the code and protocol of it’s proper usage, handling, and ceremonial display.

Please visit the National Flag Foundation for all  protocol on our American Flag.

The flag of the United States is a living symbol that calls to our spirit, reminding us of the greatness of America. We cherish and uphold it because it is the standard of honor under which we live.  The proper name of the nation’s symbol is the United States Flag; however, it is sometimes referred to as Old Glory.

We view the flag with devotion, for it represents our national heritage of noble deeds, splendid accomplishment, and untold sacrifices which combined to establish the moral character of our country. Our flag is a symbol that makes our past one with the present and makes the present a foundation for tomorrow.

It signifies a people dedicated to liberty, justice and freedom for all.

It is our companion around the world. It summons confidence on sight. There is a magic in its folds that continually renews the hope that this nation, under God, will long be an example everywhere for all who love freedom with honor.

We give homage to the flag because it stands for the courageous, earnest, and unselfish experiences of our people who have given us strength as a nation and pride as citizens.

We respect our flag because we have respect for our fellow citizens, and because our love for country finds its center in our flag.

The customs and traditions which surround the display and use of our flag are guides to the means by which we as proud and grateful citizens may demonstrate the ultimate respect for the flag of our nation. In honoring and saluting our flag we demonstrate affection for our nation, fellow citizens and the proud future we share.

Please visit The National Flag Foundation for all rules of protocol for the United States Flag.