by Renate Flynn
American Flag Rules Were Enacted by Congress in 1942
American flag rules were established in 1942. Congress enacted this Code to provide guidelines and rules to ensure the American flag continues to receive the respect it deserves. Many of the regulations provided in the Code are well known, however some of the American flag rules are more obscure. The American flag rules cover everything from folding, placement, and lighting. Understanding the Code will ensure that you give this national treasure proper attention.
Most people are aware that the American flag should never be allowed to touch the ground however some rules are much more obscure. In fact some of the restrictions are violated on a daily basis by well meaning citizens. Because American flag rules are meant as a guideline an individual cannot be fined or punished by violating them. Of course the majority of us want to abide by the American Flag Code and the rules it sets forth.
You might be surprised to discover that items, such as paper napkins, mint wrappers, and other disposable items, which have this national emblem on them, are in violation of the Code. Another rule that shocks people is the inability to use the symbol on clothing. It is also not allowed for use in advertisement. Obviously, this part of the Code is overlooked on a daily basis. Many companies use the symbol within their logo, which is a direct violation. The rules state that anything, which is perceived as an American flag by one or more individuals is indeed Old Glory. Based on the code, a red, white, and blue Christmas tree could be viewed as an American Flag.
There are also rules in place for displaying this symbol of freedom. If you have a pole in your yard, the proper placement would be for the American flag to be above any other banners. The only exception is for ensigns of another country. During peacetime, all countries should be at the same level and be of equal size. After the tragic events of September 11th, a surge in patriotism occurred. Many individuals choose to display Old Glory 24 hours a day. Unfortunately, few are aware that the United States Colors should be properly illuminated, especially when left up overnight.
You can find illumination fixtures that are specifically designed for this purpose. Proper flagpole lighting will ensure that you are respecting the Code enacted by Congress. There are flagpole lighting kits that contain a 175W metal halide bulbs and the lighting fixtures to provide the required amount of illumination without being offensive to neighbors. The use of lighting is not the only area, which has escaped the general publics knowledge. There are many scenarios that result in confusion.
One such scenario is when the President or Govern declares a proclamation that the American flag be lowered to half-staff. Naturally you want to show respect. The problem arises, when the flagpole will not allow you to lower the Colors. In this scenario, the appropriate response would be to use black crepe paper, which is 7 feet long and 1 foot wide. It should be placed directly below the spearhead. You can also use this technique as a sign of mourning, when a friend or loved one has passed away. This simple technique allows you to maintain the rules, while you honor the loss of someone important to you.
With the new resurgence in wanting to show off your patriotism, keep in mind to adhere to the policies of Old Glorys Code that has been set forth by Congress. It is for this reason that they offer lighting kits specifically designed for illuminating the American flag based on Congress rules. We are all proud to be citizens of the United States, and our pride is shared in the patriotic holiday displays that are cropping up all over this great land.