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Last updated: Fri. Jul. 04, 2014 - 08:17 am EDT


Etiquette advice: Treat our flag with respect this Independence Day

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Q. Karen, is it still proper to dispose of a worn out American Flag by burning it?

A. Not only is it still proper, it is the recommended way to dispose of a worn out American Flag. And in view of the holiday, here are some more guidelines on what to do and what not to do with "Old Glory," from the United States State Department website.

"Public law 94-344, known as the Federal Flag Code, contains rules for handling and displaying the U.S. flag. The federal code contains no penalties for misusing the flag, states have their own flag codes and may impose penalties. The federal code makes it clear that our flag is a living symbol.

*The traditional guidelines for displaying the flag in public are from sunrise to sunset. However, it can be displayed at night if it is illuminated. The flag should not fly during weather that could cause damage to the flag, unless it is an all-weather flag.

*It should be displayed often, and especially on national holidays and special occasions.

*The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.

*The flag may be flown at half-staff to honor a newly deceased federal or state government official by order of the president or the governor, respectively. On Memorial Day, the flag should be flown at half-staff until noon.

Some things not to do are:

*Out of respect, never dip the flag for any person or thing, even though state flags, regimental colors and other flags may be dipped as a mark of honor.

*Don't display the flag with the union down, except as a signal of distress.

*Don't let the flag touch anything beneath it, like the ground, floor or water.

*Don't carry it horizontally, but always aloft.

*Don't wear it as wearing apparel, as a costume or an athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be attached to the uniform of patriotic organizations, military personnel, police officers and firefighters.

*Don't use the flag for advertising or promotion purposes or print it on paper napkins, boxes or anything else that is for temporary use and will be discarded.

During the hoisting or lowering of the flag or when it passes in a parade, Americans should stand at attention facing the flag with their right hand over their heart. Uniformed military members offer a military salute. Men not in uniform should remove their hats and hold them with their right hand at their left shoulder, the hand resting over the heart. Non U.S. citizens should stand at attention.

When the flag is worn out or no longer fit to display, it should be destroyed with dignity, preferably by burning."

There is no better time than the Fourth of July to brush up on your flag etiquette. It's also a great time to teach your children and grandchildren about the do's and don'ts and how to fly and fold our flag. If you've forgotten how to do that, the internet has some very good video tutorials on folding our flag.

For more information and guidelines for displaying our flag go to:!portal/1012/article/5002/The-American-Flag-and-its-Protocol

Happy Fourth of July!

Karen Hickman is a local certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy. To submit questions, email

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