The right way to decorate with the flag

Published 1652 GMT (0052 HKT) July 3, 2013
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It's an American tradition to display the flag of the United States on Independence Day, festooning houses, picnics and parades in red, white and blue. But did you know our country has federal guidelines relating to the display of the flag? When it comes to flagpoles, the Flag Code says "when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness." Click through the gallery to see if you're displaying your flags correctly this July 4th. Shutterstock
When a flag is mounted on a staff outside a building or home, usually mounted at an angle from a window sill, balcony or the front entrance, the Flag Code says the flag should be "placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half-staff." Shutterstock
When hanging a flag against a wall, in a window or suspended across an entrance, whether horizontally or vertically, the Flag Code says "the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the observer's left." However, the flag should never be used to cover a ceiling. Shutterstock
The Flag Code says the flag should never be "festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free." Bunting is the preferred method of general flag-related decoration. The Flag code suggests bunting that has blue on the top, white in the middle and red on the bottom. Shutterstock
It is frowned upon to use an actual flag as a tablecloth. The Flag Code says, "The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying or delivering anything." Shutterstock
Prints of the flag, however, are fair game in 4th of July decor. The Flag Code says, "The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing." So any replicas of the flag, like lapel pins, should be treated with respect. Shutterstock
The Flag code does not address mini flags, specifically, but the dimensions are regulated: The length of any flag should be 1.9 times the width. However, the Flag Code does outline that "The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise." Shutterstock
The Flag Code is specific when it comes to parades: "The flag should not be displayed on a float in a parade except from a staff," and "The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat. When the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff should be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender." Shutterstock