FLAGS and FLAG ETIQUETTE


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American Flag Etiquette   |   Flag Placement on Motorcycles   |   American Flag

POW/MIA Flag   |   Folding the American Flag



AMERICAN FLAG ETIQUETTE

On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Federal law stipulates many aspects of flag etiquette. The section of law dealing with American Flag etiquette is generally referred to as the Flag Code. Some general guidelines from the Flag Code answer many of the most common questions:

  • The flag should be lighted at all times, either by sunlight or by an appropriate light source.
  • The flag should be flown in fair weather, unless the flag is designed for inclement weather use.
  • The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
  • The flag should not be used for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
  • The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard.
  • The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
  • The flag should never have any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind placed on it, or attached to it.
  • The flag should never be used for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
  • When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
  • The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.
  • When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.

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FLAG PLACEMENT ON MOTORCYCLES



US Flag Only

If only the US Flag is on your bike, it should either be at the center, or to its "marching right" - on the right side of the motorcycle to the rider's perspective when facing forward.



US Flag And One Other Flag Of Any Type

If the US Flag is on your bike with another, it should be to its "marching right" - on the right side of the motorcycle to the rider's perspective. If the other flag is that of another nation, it should be the same size and at the same height of the US Flag - NO flag should ever be displayed higher than the US Flag.



US Flag And More Than One Other Non-National Flag

If the US Flag is on your bike with several other non-national flags (POW-MIA, ALR, Eagles, Service Banners, etc.), it should be at center and higher than any of the other flags.



US Flag And More Than One Flag Including Those Of Other Nations

If the US Flag is displayed on your bike with those of any other nation, the flags should be same size and at the same height, with the US Flag to marching right (right side of the vehicle), and others arranged in alphabetical order to the left. Other flags should be arranged in order of decreasing importance - Nations first, states (in order of admittance) and territories second, military third (in order of establishment), and then any others. Again, no flag should fly higher than the US Flag, but the US Flag should be no higher than that of any other nations displayed.



Rationale

It’s argued that, since the small bike flags we use are all but invisible from the front (when mounted on the rear), the concept of "Flag's own right" should be used with the vantage from the rear of the bike. (This would place the Flag on the on left-hand, rear of your bike). This concept, unfortunately, overlooks a more applicable concept.

If you equate the motion of your bike with marching, and you equate traffic with a procession, another portion of the Flag Code becomes the obvious choice for display of the Flag alone, or with another:

       Rule 9: "The Flag, when carried in a procession with another flag or flags should be either on the marching right; that is, the Flag's own right, or, if there is a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line."

The second portion of this rule does not work well with most motorcycles, since there usually is no means to mount the Flag in front (in the direction of travel) of the others if all flags are to be mounted at the rear of the bike. In this case, we rely on:

       Rule 10: "The Flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs." Included in this would be POW-MIA flags.

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AMERICAN FLAG

On June 14, 1777, in order to establish an official flag for the new nation, the Continental Congress passed the first Flag Act: "Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation."

Act of January 13, 1794 - provided for 15 stripes and 15 stars after May 1795.

Act of April 4, 1818 - provided for 13 stripes and one star for each state, to be added to the flag on the 4th of July following the admission of each new state, signed by President Monroe.

Executive Order of President Taft dated June 24, 1912 - established proportions of the flag and provided for arrangement of the stars in six horizontal rows of eight each, a single point of each star to be upward.

Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated January 3, 1959 - provided for the arrangement of the stars in seven rows of seven stars each, staggered horizontally and vertically.

Executive Order of President Eisenhower dated August 21, 1959 - provided for the arrangement of the stars in nine rows of stars staggered horizon tally and eleven rows of stars staggered vertically.

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POW-MIA FLAG

In 1971, Mrs. Michael Hoff, an MIA wife and member of the National League of Families, recognized the need for a symbol of our POW-MIAs. Prompted by an article in the Jacksonville, Florida Times-Union, Mrs. Hoff contacted Norman Rivkees, Vice President of Annin & Company which had made a banner for the newest member of the United Nations, the People’s Republic of China, as a part of their policy to provide flags to all United Nations members states. Mrs. Hoff found Mr. Rivkees very sympathetic to the POW-MIA issue, and he, along with Annin’s advertising agency, designed a flag to represent our missing men. Following League approval, the flags were manufactured for distribution.

On March 9, 1989, an official League flag, which flew over the White House on 1988 National POW-MIA Recognition Day, was installed in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda as a result of legislation passed overwhelmingly during the 100th Congress. In a demonstration of bipartisan Congressional support, the leadership of both Houses hosted the installation ceremony. The League’s POW-MIA flag is the only flag ever displayed in the U.S. Capitol Rotunda where it will stand as a powerful symbol of national commitment to America’s POW-MIAs until the fullest possible accounting has been achieved for U.S. personnel still missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

On August 10, 1990, the 101st Congress passed U.S. Public Law 101-355, which recognized the League’s POW-MIA flag and designated it "as the symbol of our Nation’s concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus ending the uncertainty for their families and the Nation". The importance of the League’s POW-MIA flag lies in its continued visibility, a constant reminder of the plight of America’s POW-MIAs. Other than "Old Glory", the League’s POW-MIA flag is the only flag ever to fly over the White House, having been displayed in this place of honor on National POW-MIA Recognition Day since 1982.

With passage of Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act during the first term of the 105th Congress, the League’s POW-MIA flag will fly each year on Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW-MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day on the grounds or in the public lobbies of major military installations as designated by the Secretary of the Defense, all Federal national cemeteries, the national Korean War Veterans Memorial, the National Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the White House, the United States Postal Service post offices and at the official offices of the Secretaries of State, Defense and Veteran’s Affairs, and Director of the Selective Service System.

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FOLDING THE AMERICAN FLAG

        

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Site last updated 10/07/2017