The history of Flag Day and proper flag etiquette

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Americans celebrate a number of patriotic holidays: Independence Day to honor the birth of our country, Memorial Day to honor the fallen and Veteran’s Day to honor those who served; but June 14 is a day to honor the red, white and blue — the American Flag.

Congress adopted the flag to represent the United States in 1777. The first flag had 13 stars, seven red and six white stripes — one stripe and one star for each state in the union. As the country grew, maintaining the correct number of stars and stripes proved difficult, according to the Veterans of Foreign Wars website. Congress passed a law that would keep the number of stripes at 13, representing the original union, and the number of stars equal to the number of states in the country.

President Woodrow Wilson declared Flag Day a nationwide holiday on May 30, 1916. The date wasn’t changed until President Harry Truman declared June 14 National Flag Day in 1950, according to the Truman Library.

The national government has created a set of procedures to provide guidance and proper display of the American Flag. 

According to the VFW, the flag should be displayed from sunrise to sunset or 24 hours a day with proper illumination except in inclement weather. 

Never use the flag as decoration. Instead use blue, white and red bunting. 

When displayed with other flags, the American Flag is always displayed on top.

Do not let the American Flag touch the ground. 

When retiring a flag, proper methods are required, according to the VFW. Ensure the flag is properly folded, then create a flame large enough to consume the flag. Perform salutes or recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Once the flag is fully consumed, extinguish the fire and bury the ashes. 

The Veterans of Foreign Wars POST 3788 can help with properly retire a flag. For more information, visit their website.

Categories: Local San Diego News