11 Flag Protocol Memorial Day

Flag Protocol Memorial Day
Start by flying the flag at half-staff from sunrise to noon, then raise it to full-staff for the rest of the day. Consider using a flag holder or adhering to specific display rules. Clean your flag gently post-usage by handwashing.

1. Flying Flag At Half-Staff

On Memorial Day, the last Monday of May, your flag should be flown at half-staff position (half-mast if it is on a boat or a ship) from sunrise until noon. Then it can be raised to full staff and flown the rest of the day.

Flying the flag in this way is done to pay homage to those who have lost their lives in battles for the country.

When raising the flag, it should be done briskly. However, when lowering the flag, you should do so at a slower pace and do so solemnly. If you cannot fly the flag at half-staff on Memorial Day, flying a black ribbon in honor of the nation’s battle heroes is also acceptable.

2. Folding Properly

When it comes to handling Old Glory and folding it up, there is a specific way in which it should be done according to national flag etiquette. The proper way to fold the flag is as follows:

  • Hold it waist-high and parallel to the ground.
  • Fold the lower half of the striped section length-wise over the stars.
  • Fold it again length-wise, keeping the blue field on the outside.
  • Make a triangular fold, bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to meet the open edge.
  • To form a second triangle, turn the endpoint inward, parallel to the open edge.
  • Continue folding in triangles until the entire length of the flag is folded.
  • When finished, only a blue field of stars should be visible.

3. Flags For Gravesites

National flags at gravesite on Memorial day
National flags at gravesite on Memorial day

In honor of the fallen veterans that lost their lives for our country, during several holidays such as Patriot Day, Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, Independence Day, Remembrance Day, and more, you may see loved ones placing the American flag on veterans’ graves.

If you will do this, be sure to know and follow the cemetery’s rules and abide by the U.S. flag code. This states that the flag of the United States should not be used for decoration, it should only be placed on veterans’ graves on special holidays, and after the holidays, it should be removed and stored properly.

You may use a flag holder specifically designed to hold the flags. They can either attach to the grave or be placed in the ground. Ensure that you are following the flag code and handling the flag properly.

4. Sizing Your Flag

The most common way to size your American flag is by the height of the pole. If you display outside on a flagpole, the flag’s length should be at least 1/4 the length of the pole.

If you are not displaying your flag on a flagpole, you should choose a flag proportional to the display area. For example, if you display your flag on a large wall, you should not go with a small one. Your flag should be easily visible.

5. Properly Displaying Your Flag

If a flag is flown from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle, the flag’s union should go all the way to the top of the staff, except when it is at half-staff. If the flag is suspended vertically over a street, the union should be to the north on a north-south street and to the east on an east-west street.

If a flag is used on a power boat, it is known as an ensign and can be flown from 8 am until sunset. It should be flown at the stern of the boat. On an automobile, a flag is known as a standard and can be flown from a small staff on the right front bumper.

6. Displaying Multiple Flags Properly

When different flags are flown from adjacent flagpoles, the American flag should always be hoisted first and lowered last. When more than one flag is displayed on the same flagpole, the U.S. flag should always be at the top.

When a number of flags displayed of states or cities are displayed by staff, the U.S. flag should be flown at the center or the highest point. If flags from different nations are being flown, they should be flown from separate staffs of the same height.

7. Disposing Of A Flag Properly

According to the U.S. flag code, a flag that is no longer in fit conditions to be displayed should be disposed of respectfully, preferably by burning. If you are going to dispose of your American flag, there are some steps you should take.

First, the flag should be folded (as we discussed earlier), and a fire large enough to ensure the complete burning of the flag should be started. Then, you should light the flag on fire.

If you are holding a flag-burning ceremony, the attendees may want to cover their hearts with their right hand, salute the flag, recite the pledge of allegiance, or hold a moment of silence in recognition.

Once the flag has burned completely, you must put the fire out and bury the ashes.

If you do not want to burn the flag, you have other options, such as donating the tattered flag, holding a flag burial, or shredding it.

8. Respectful Behavior During The National Anthem

man placing his hand over heart
Man placing his hand over heart

You will probably hear the National Anthem on Memorial Day, honoring the stars and stripes veterans risked their lives for. When you do, it is imperative that you show respect and follow proper National Anthem etiquette.

First of all, you should always stand up and remove your hat if you are wearing one. Face the flag and place your right hand over your heart. You should sing along, but you can also opt to stay quiet and stand still.

9. Cleaning Your Flag Properly

The safest way to clean the flag is to handwash it with a mild laundry detergent.

Your biggest concern when cleaning the flag is avoiding damage, so be sure to wash gently and avoid machine washing unless you are sure the colors will not bleed. You can test the colors first to be sure if you prefer not to handwash.

10. Parade Flag Etiquette

When being carried in a procession or a parade with other flags, the national flag should be displayed on the marching right. Or, if the flags are being carried in procession (one behind another), the national flag should be in front of the center.

If the flag is going to be displayed on a float, it should be flown from staff or properly hung from a wall. If it is carried by the color guard, Old Glory should either lead the parade alone or it should be placed to the right of the color guard.

11. Paying Respects At The National Cemetery

When visiting a national cemetery on or around Memorial Day, you may be joined by many other people who have come to pay their respects to the fallen soldiers. It is important to abide by proper cemetery etiquette and be respectful of the families and friends who have lost loved ones.

You can pay your respects in several ways, including taking a moment of silence to honor the brave soldiers, saying a quiet prayer or offering up a blessing, or even bringing flowers to place on graves.

When is the last time the flags should be lowered?

A flag should be lowered at sunset unless it is properly illuminated at night. If there is illumination, you can fly the flag overnight as well.

Margaret Dunn

Margaret is a passionate writer based in Costa Rica, though she was raised in the southeastern US. Being from the South, good manners and proper etiquette were ingrained in her from a young age and she has always been fascinated with etiquette in different settings and places. When she is not writing, you can find her exercising, reading, or spending time with her family at the beach.

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