American Flag Myths and Frequently Asked United States Flag Code Questions
1.) Do you have to destroy the American flag if it touches the ground?
As long as the flag remains suitable for display, the flag may continue to be displayed as a symbol of our great country. However, you should always try to keep the US flag from touching or dragging on the ground.
2.) Does the United States Flag Code prohibit the display of a United States flag of less than 50 stars?
According to the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry, the United States flag never becomes obsolete. Any officially approved American flag, regardless of the number or arrangement of the stars and/or stripes may continue to be used and displayed until no longer serviceable.
Actually, we think flying historic American flags is pretty neat and a fun way to honor this country’s past.
3.) Does the United States Flag Code prohibit the “fringing” of the flag?
Fringing an American flag means adding gold fringe all the way around a US flag. Fringing of the flag is neither approved of nor prohibited by the Flag Code. The American Legion considers that fringe is used as an honorable enrichment to the Flag. Additionally the courts have deemed without merit and frivolous, lawsuits that contend that the gold fringe adorning the flag conferred Admiralty/Maritime jurisdiction.
4.) Does the United States Flag Code prohibit the washing or dry-cleaning of the flag?
There are no provisions of the Flag Code, which prohibit the washing or dry-cleaning of the flag. The decision to wash or dry-clean would of course depend upon the type of material. Washing a flag is indeed a good way to prolong the life of your flag (see more Flag Care Tips). But, you must be careful how you wash your flag.
5.) Has there been a change to the United States Flag Code that no longer requires the flag to be properly illuminated during the hours of darkness?
There has been NO CHANGE to Flag Code section 6(a), which states: “It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flag staffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.”
Read this article for additional information on displaying your American Flag at night and during rough weather.
6.) Can the mayor, a town official, or the Post Commander order the flag to be displayed at half-staff?
The gesture of placing the flag at half-staff means that the Nation or the state mourns the death of a highly regarded National or state figure, hence only the President of the United States or the Governor of the state may order the Flag to be half-staffed in accordance with Flag Code section 7(m). Those individuals and agencies that usurp authority and display the flag at half-staff on inappropriate occasions are quickly eroding the honor and reverence accorded this solemn act.
7.) Does the United States Flag Code state that when the flag is no longer a fitting emblem for display it is to be disposed of by burning in private?
The Flag Code as revised and adopted by the Congress of the United States in 1942 has never included the word(s) “private” or “in privacy.” Section 8(k) of the Flag Code states: “The flag, when it is in such a condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.” Since 1937, The American Legion has promoted the use of a public flag disposal ceremony. This ceremony is a fitting tribute and an overt expression of patriotism, which enhances the public’s understanding of honor and respect due the American flag.
8.) Can an American flag that has been used to cover a casket be used for any other proper display purpose?
A flag that has been used to cover a casket can be used for any proper display purpose to include displaying this flag from a staff or flagpole.
9.) Does the United States Flag Code enforce penalties for violations of any of its provisions?
The Flag Code is simply a guideline for proper flag etiquette. The law does not provide penalties for violation of any of its provisions.
10.) What is the U.S. Code?
The United States Code is the official, subject matter order, compilation of the Federal laws of a general and permanent nature that are currently in force. In accordance with section 285b of title 2 of the U.S. Code, the Code is compiled by the Office of the Law Revision Counsel of the United States House of Representatives. The Code is divided into 50 titles by subject matter. Each title is divided into sections. Sections within a title may be grouped together as subtitles, chapters, subchapters, parts, subparts, or divisions. Titles may also have appendices which may be divided into sections, rules and/or forms.
11.) Where can I purchase a copy of the United States Code?
If you are using it for legal research, I urge you to verify your results with the printed U.S. Code available through the U.S. Government Printing Office. The printed U.S Code is available for purchase through the Government Printing Office (GPO) at (202) 512-1800, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Eastern Time. Orders can also be sent by mail to:
Superintendent of Documents
U.S. Government Printing Office
P.O. Box 371954
Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954
Click For More Information on Federal Law Relation to Display of the United States Flag and Associated Question