Many Americans proudly raise their US flag on patriotic holidays; others display the flag at all times. With Armed Forces Day, Flag Day, Memorial Day, and Independence Day right around the corner, there's no doubt we'll soon start seeing many more flags than at other times of the year.
But, did you know there not only are customs for how to display the US flag, there are laws on how to properly do so? The laws are outlined by US Code, specifically Title 35: Patriotic Societies and Observances, Chapter 10 Patriotic Customs. The proper way to treat flags was codified in 1931.
US Flags Must be Lit at Night
One of the rules is that flags should be flown from dusk to dawn. Flags should only be flown at night if they are lighted, and should only be flown in bad weather if the flag is made of weather resistant materials. (Many modern flags are synthetic and most do hold up well in rainy weather.)
Many people who hang the flag at all times don't realize that flags should be raised by night, and others may think that shining a light on the flag during darkness will raise their utility bills. There is a solution, though: solar lights, many of which are specifically designed to be mounted to flag poles. Others are solar spotlights or solar floodlights that stay on continuously. (These lights are also very useful to light signs.) Solar flagpole lights let you economically display you US flag at night to follow tradition and US Codes.
Under Section 174 of the Patriotic Customs Code, the time and occasions for display are clear:
"It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs 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."
Dates of Display
On Memorial Day, the US flag should be at hung at half mast until noon, after which it should be raise fully. Other days that the Patriotic Customs Code recommends the flag be displayed are:
New Year's Day, January 1
Inauguration Day, January 20
Lincoln's Birthday, February 12
Washington's Birthday, third Monday in February
Mother's Day, second Sunday in May
Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May
Memorial Day (half-staff until noon), the last Monday in May
Flag Day, June 14
Independence Day, July 4
Labor Day, first Monday in September
Constitution Day, September 17
Columbus Day, second Monday in
October Navy Day, October 27
Veterans Day, November 11
Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November
Christmas Day, December 25
The US President and governors of US states can also proclaim days that flags should be hung or days on which the flag should be hung at half mast, such as when a national hero, former president or other noted dignitary passes away, or following natural or man-made disasters.
So, raise your flag and if you like, keep it up at night and show it the proper respect with an economic solar light. The cost of appropriate lights are no more than any other light, but there much easier to install (no wiring!) and won't add one cent to your utility bill.
And, when you're celebrating the upcoming spring and summer holidays, please remember to give thanks to our veterans, our active service men and women, and their families.
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