Old Glory, Stars and Stripes, Red, White and Blue, and the Star Spangled Banner are the nicknames used in reference to the flag of the United States of America. Regardless of what nickname you may call her, we’re sure your heart, like ours, swells with pride each time you see her unfurled. The American flag represents a living country and as such, considered a living symbol deserving of respect. It represents the honor, courage, and sacrifice of those who have struggled to preserve the ideals upon which our country was founded: freedom, justice and opportunity for all.
“Throughout the history of our nation, the flag has evoked intense, sincere feelings of patriotism.” ~ Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States
There are many holidays within the calendar year where the display of the American flag is observed. Among them is Flag Day, which is observed on June 14th as a result of a 1916 presidential proclamation. This special day commemorates the adoption of the flag of the United States in 1777.
In 1942, Congress set forth guidelines for the proper use and care of the U.S. flag known as the Flag Code. Here are a few examples of proper etiquette as outlined in the Code:
- The flag of the United States is the emblem of our identity as a separate nation. Therefore, citizens should stand at attention and salute when their flag is passing in a parade or being hoisted or lowered.
- The custom is to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on flagstaffs in the open, but it may be displayed at night with proper illumination to produce a patriotic effect on special occasions.
- The flag should not be dipped to any person or thing.
- It should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, or water.
- The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
- It should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement.
Proper flag etiquette and care of our nation’s symbol will ensure you wave your flag proudly and with the patriotism she deserves.
Why 13 folds? The American flag isn’t deliberately folded this way because of special symbolic meaning. It is folded in this manner to distinguish folding a flag from folding another ordinary object such as a bed sheet and because it results in a visual pleasing, easy-to-handle shape. This folding method was practiced long before any ceremonial meaning was applied to each of the steps. Although there is no “official” meaning of each of the 13 ceremonious folds, many flag-folding ceremonies incorporate special scripts or meanings to each of the 13 folds symbolically significant to those who participate in the ceremony. Here are a few examples of those scripts:
Although our friends and Coach-Net members in Canada observe Flag Day in February, we thought it important to include Canadian flag etiquette here as well. Much like the American flag does for its citizens, the Canadian flag symbolizes honor and pride for all Canadians and should be treated with respect. With nicknames of the Maple Leaf flag or in French as L’Unifolié, which means “one-leafed”, the single-leaf design of the flag was proclaimed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on January 1965 and was later inaugurated on February 15th, 1965. These momentous words from the Speaker of the Senate, the Honourable Maurice Bourget, adding deeper meaning to the occasion, “The flag is the symbol of the nation’s unity, for it, beyond any doubt, represents all the citizens of Canada without distinction of race, language, belief or opinion.”
To learn more about Canadian Flag Etiquette, click here.