The American flag is everywhere! It is flown in almost every country. It’s on the top of the tallest mountains. It’s even in space. If you go to America, you will see the flag in many places too – on stamps, uniforms, cars and buildings. But you will probably never see the flag on the ground. That’s because it’s against the rules.
The United States Flag Code is a set of guidelines about the flag. The code says that the American flag should always be on the top of the flagpole, with other flags underneath. It should never touch the ground. And nobody should ever step on it. You should raise the American flag at sunrise and lower it at sunset. The flag should never be flown in darkness. So if you want to fly your flag at night, you must illuminate it. The flag should also not be flown in rain or bad weather.
Until 1989, it was illegal to burn the American flag. Today, people sometimes burn the flag or fly it upside down in public as a political protest. Most Americans find this very offensive. It is, however, OK to burn flags that are old and tattered. The code says that people should dispose of old flags in a dignified manner, either by burying or burning them.
According to the code, the flag should never be printed on cushions, napkins, boxes and other things that people use temporarily and then discard. Also, the flag should not be on clothing, bedding or drapery. Many Americans ignore these rules, probably because they don’t know about them. If you ever go to a Fourth of July celebration, you will see people wearing t-shirts and using napkins printed with the American flag. They consider these things patriotic.
stars and stripes
The US Flag Code is federal law. There is, however, no penalty for breaking the code. That’s because enforcing it would interfere with Americans’ First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
Americans love their flag, which is also known as the “Stars and Stripes,” “Old Glory” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.” They even have a day dedicated to it: Flag Day is on June 14th. It commemorates the adoption of the American flag in 1777. Many cities have a Flag Day parade and some organizations have flag retirement ceremonies – where they ceremoniously dispose of old flags.
HOW TO FOLD THE FLAG
Americans have very precise rules about how to fold their flag. Two people hold the flag so that it’s parallel to the ground, no part of the flag must touch the ground. They fold it twice lengthwise. They then make several triangular folds – until only a triangle of blue stars is visible: this is the portion of the flag denoting honour. Some organizations have their own special flag-folding ceremony. The National Flag Foundation’s ceremony involves making ten folds. It says that each fold represents a different virtue: liberty, unity, justice, perseverance, hardiness, valour, purity, innocence, sacrifice and honour.