Our country’s flag is more than just a piece of cloth. It’s a symbol of America. It represents our past, our present and our future. Treating the U.S. flag honorably shows respect for our country’s people, land and ways of life.
You can fly the flag every day of the year, but you have to do it the right way. When raising it during a Scout outing or meeting, you should follow certain etiquette.
RAISING THE AMERICAN FLAG
When hoisting a flag on a flagpole, one person should hold the folded flag so it does not touch the ground. If it touches the ground, that doesn’t mean the flag should be retired — you can clean it instead. As long as it’s still suitable for display, the flag can fly. A second person should attach the flag to the flag line, which is called a “halyard.”
Once attached, briskly raise the flag, keeping the line tight. When the flag is flying, step back and salute as the second person ties the halyard to the flagpole.
FLYING MULTIPLE FLAGS
If the U.S. flag is flown with other types of flags — like state flags or maybe your Scout unit’s flag — the U.S. flag should be given the position of honor to its own right. That means if you’re standing next to the flag and looking out at an audience or away from a building, the U.S. flag should always be on the right. The American flag should be the first hoisted and the last lowered.
Flying the flag at half-staff shows sorrow after a national tragedy or the death of a national or state figure. It also honors those who have sacrificed their lives for our country, like on Memorial Day. On that holiday, fly the flag at half-staff until noon and then hoist it to full-staff.
LOWERING THE AMERICAN FLAG
The American flag should be lowered slowly by one person while a second person salutes it until it’s within reach. When the flag is in reach, the person who was saluting should gather the flag in his arms while the other removes the flag from the flagpole and re-ties the halyard. After it’s removed from the halyard, both people can fold the flag.
FOLDING THE AMERICAN FLAG
After lowering the flag, you’re not done yet. You can’t just fold up the flag any old way. Hold it at waist level between yourself and another person, fold it in half lengthwise, then fold it in half lengthwise again, always keeping the blue field on the outside. While one person holds the flag by the blue field, the other should make triangular folds from the opposite end until only the blue field is available.
WHEN TO FLY THE FLAG
You can fly the American flag every day, but there are certain national and state holidays that call for its display. Some of those include:
- New Year’s Day (Jan. 1)
- Inauguration Day (every four years on Jan. 20)
- Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday (third Monday in January)
- Lincoln’s Birthday (Feb. 12)
- Presidents Day (third Monday in February)
- National Vietnam War Veterans Day (March 29)
- Easter Sunday (on a Sunday between March 22 and April 25)
- Armed Forces Day (third Saturday in May)
- Memorial Day (last Monday in May)
- Flag Day (June 14)
- Independence Day (July 4)
- National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day (July 27)
- Labor Day (first Monday in September)
- Patriot Day (Sept. 11)
- Constitution Day (Sept. 17)
- Columbus Day (second Monday in October)
- Navy Day (Oct. 27)
- Veterans Day (Nov. 11)
- Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thursday in November)
- Christmas Day (Dec. 25)
The U.S. flag can be carried on a staff in parades, at Scout meetings and during other ceremonies and events.