While you won’t get jail time, the Flag Code specifies some golden rules on what not to do with your flag, and we highly recommend following them. At the end of the day, it’s all about respecting the American flag.
- Never fly your American flag upside down. This is only acceptable as a signal of severe personal distress, such as extreme danger to life or property. This could mean that your soul will go to heaven or people are charging your home with torches. Not so much that solicitors are approaching or you’re unhappy with the current state of the government.
- Never let your American flag touch anything beneath it. This includes the ground, floor, water, or merchandise. If you feel passionate about the American flag, treat it as anything or anyone else you feel passionate about. The ground is no place for something you love. As long as your heart is in the right place if a corner accidentally touches the ground for a moment, there is no need to burn the flag or ask your religious leader for forgiveness.
- Never carry your American flag horizontally or flat. The flag should always be aloft and free and never carried flat or horizontally. We’re not sure why, but doing just that is a popular ritual at football games. If you see this happening at your child’s sports events, we recommend kindly and privately informing those responsible for overseeing the event.
- Never use the American flag as decoration or apparel. This includes bedding, drapery, decoration for a speaker’s desk or front of a platform, and types of clothing. While the patriotic spirit is appreciated, the American flag should be taken seriously.
- Protect your American flag from being easily damaged. Wear and tear are natural over time, but you can protect your flag by avoiding use in harsh weather conditions, taking extra care when storing it, and fastening it properly to flagpoles.
- Never use the American flag to cover a ceiling. This rule is pretty straightforward. Just don’t do it.
- Never put anything on the American flag. Nothing should be placed upon it or attached to it. Yes, that includes marks, letters, words, persons, designs, pictures, symbols, or drawings. The bald eagle might be super patriotic, but it still doesn’t belong on the American flag.
- Never use the American flag to hold something. It should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything. The US flag is not a knapsack, and it deserves more respect.
- Never use the American flag for advertisements. Ever. The flag should not be on cushions, handkerchiefs and the like. Do not put it on paper napkins, boxes, or anything designed for temporary use that you can throw away. Advertising signs should not be fastened to the same staff or halyard that an American flag is fastened to. The flag represents our fantastic country and does not represent someone’s company. Note: Our logo is the way it is so that it is not the American flag and only resembles it. We also made sure not to use the American flag colors.
- Never use the American flag as a part of a costume or athletic uniform. That being said, a flag patch is acceptable when attached to the uniform of military members, police officers, firefighters, and members of patriotic organizations.
- Properly retire the American flag when it is no longer a fit emblem for display. The preferable way to retire the American flag is through a respectable burning ceremony. You can learn more about how to respectfully dispose of your flag on our flag and flagpole FAQ page.
We all love the beautiful American flag, and we all want to protect and respect the things that we love. Following this set of rules will allow you to honor and respect the flag. Now that you know the “don’ts,” learn about the “dos” by checking out our tips on how to properly display the United States flag.