Remembering Proper Flag Etiquette: “Fly Our Nation’s Symbol Proudly, Properly”

I just watched Whiskey Tango Foxtrot on pay per view. Thought I would catch a comedy I missed in theaters before my sons and I headed to Havre de Grace for family day at the carnival, an annual event that”s part of the town’s spectacular Fourth of July celebration.

There were funny scenes for sure. What I didn’t expect was a timely lesson in patriotism. No real spoiler here, but at the movie’s end, Tina Fey’s character visits a Marine she met during her first few days as an embedded journalist in Afghanistan. Both characters are stateside, her with wounds of conscience and him missing both legs, thanks to an IED.

A long shot shows the Stars and Stripes flying alongside the Marine Corps colors in his yard. The flags weren’t flown at the same height, of course, because this Marine knows his flag etiquette. Old Glory was taller, prouder… first.

I do not fly the American flag on front of my home. Not from a lack of patriotism; in fact, just the opposite. Homeowners and businesses who choose to fly our country’s flag should accept the responsibility that comes with it. Do it right. I’m not able to commit to it

Driving around my adopted hometown of Aberdeen, I see the Red, White and Blue weathered to pink, gray and purple. I see frayed flags. I see flags flying unlit at night and in the rain. I see the American Flag and state, service and even sports team flags flying at equal heights.

The worst? A distribution warehouse that will go unnamed had Old Glory flying not at half-mast, but shamefully flying tall and proud during the mourning period set by the President of the United States for the 49 mostly young, mostly gay, mostly Hispanic people killed in the Orlando terrorist attack.

Do we infer that this company is anti-gay? Are its leaders biased against Hispanics? Likewise, do we infer that homeowners who fly flags that should have been retired years ago or unlit as etiquette requires are anti-American? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot indeed.

I’m sure laziness, complacency, ignorance and a lack of responsibility are more likely to blame. So…. Please…

Fly our nation’s symbol proudly, properly. Educate yourself. Assign a staff member to track when federal and state flags are ordered to half-mast. Check outdoor flags for serviceability when daylight savings time begins and ends, just as you check smoke detector batteries. Or don’t fly the flag at all.

A concise guide to flag etiquette can be found by visiting


  1. Fly fly says

    I do appreciate the writers comments. I face the same choice regularly. Alternatively, I have chosen to fly fly fly the flag. As a vet of OIF and OEF, I have been discouraged by the lack of flags and what seems to be an anti american sentiment in my own country. I think the rules are so stringent it makes it a part time job the display the flag. If I was busy getting my kids to bed and forget to take the flag inside, so be it. My respect for those before me and what the flag represents is in my service, my reverence for my family, and by being a contributing member of society. I will continue to fly my flag, despite the rain and darkness, because my love for my country and respect for those before me goes deeper than a long list of rules.

    • Mary says

      The complicated list of rules you don’t feel obligated to follow are federal law. Not federal suggestions. As a fellow veteran I’m a little surprised by your stance. But that’s what makes this country great. We both can have and share our own views, and we can be grateful we don’t have Talibanesque bands of flag police roaming our streets.

      • Fly fly says

        Federal law that is not enforceable under penalty, per the supreme court. Our nation did just fine before it was made federal law in 1942. As a fellow veteran, I’m surprised by your stance. That is assuming I agree with everything the people of power have attempted to tell me is Gospel with a capital G.

        Critical thinking matters. That is the true blessing of freedom. It is was moves us forward.

  2. Freestate? says

    Thanks for the article. A note for anyone with an old worn American flag. Any Boy Scout troop would be able to make sure the flag is part of a proper retirement ceremony. Happy Independence Day!

  3. SP says

    My flag flies 24/7. It’s lit at night and replaced regularly, as soon as I note any fraying of fading.

    This trend of lowering our nation’s colors to half-staff so often is troubling. I often ignore it. Obama called for flags on Government buildings to be lowered, not those of all Americans.

    I fly the flag in defiance of our anti-American President. He promised to radically transform American and has largely succeeded.

    Protests over non-issues, Social Justice Warriors, Black Lives Matter, Occupy and others have been given full freedom to wreak havoc on American patriots. Additionally, the Government itself, through the IRS targeting of patriotic organizations, the Department of “Justice” getting involved and The absolute dereliction of duty among so called Conservative members of Congress have greatly lowered the value of being an American.

    While I’m still grateful that God put me on this earth as an American, my citizenship is far less valuable than it was just a few years ago.

    Will President Trump make it better? perhaps. Will President Clinton further destroy America and all she stands for? Absolutely and without doubt.

    • Mary says

      Thanks for the distinction of the “lower the flag” order being for federal buildings. You are, of course, right. I’ve grown accustomed to seeing Walmart and the like following suit.

      Personally, I think Obama has done a fabulous job. The loss of freedoms seemed to begin with 911. I wholeheartedly agree we are no longer free. My very bright then 9 year old son, observing a bridge camera, asked me, “If we live in a free society, why are there cameras everywhere?”

      Out of the mouths of babes…

      • SP says

        I agree, he has done a fabulous job of transforming America from a free, upright society to one where special
        Interest groups, infinitesimally small minorities, celebrators of percerted lifestyles and the perpetually offended are given free reign over those of us who hold to comminly accepted standards.

        • SP says

          Wow, I wish I could spell. The phone spell check didn’t even pick those up. Let’s try again.

          I agree, he has done a fabulous job of transforming America from a free, upright society to one where special Interest groups, infinitesimally small minorities, celebrators of perverted lifestyles and the perpetually offended are given free reign over those of us who hold to commonly accepted standards.

          • Just a Thought says

            Just because something is commonly accepted does not make it right. Let’s go for a higher standard than common acceptance, such as “all men are created equal,” and “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

            Having equal rights does not in any way give someone free reign over others. That is why it is called equality.

      • Ms Moderate says


        “If we live in a free society, why are there cameras everywhere?”

        Because we live in a free society is why they are free to place a camera that overlooks the bridge or others areas.

      • educate yourself says

        @Mary, the fact that you believe Obama has done a fine job is why it doesn’t surprise me you can’t explain the purpose of traffic cameras to your child. You’d do well to educate yourself in these areas and as many others as you possibly can so as to pass on more than uninformed ignorance.

        • Mary says

          I didn’t realize my comment included how I responded to my child.

          Of course, men like you don’t need to know what I said, because you are fundamentally confident your assumptions and presumptions about what a liberal-leaning female veteran and mother would have said must be fact, just like all the presumptions and assumptions made about Americans who don’t act like you, dress like you, date like you, think like you or share the same whitebread views and experiences as you must be fact.

          Everyone is wrong and stupid and not worthy of having the freedom to speak (vote, marry, immigrate, walk the streets without police harrassment, etc.).

          You are doing a fine job of passing on ignorant views. I think I’ll pass.

          • educate yourself says

            @Mary Well, what was “out of the mouths of babes…” supposed to impart? It would seem you agree with the implied questioning of why are there cameras watching traffic… else why post it at all? The cameras provide information on traffic movement, backups, flow patterns etc. Certain cameras pick up on the flashing lights of emergency vehicles. Look it up. Ignorance only refers to a lack of knowledge. No doubt you know things I am ignorant of… you liberals are so thin skinned. You don’t know anything about me, yet you launched into a laundry list of liberal insults simply because I disagreed with you – and isn’t that one of the things you berated me for? Right off you assumed I’m a man which makes you a sexist. For the record, I don’t care how people act, dress, boink, vote (as long as they’re informed which probably precludes 70% of American voters), immigrate (legally), or walk the streets and I enjoy rye and wheat as much as white bread. By the way, thank you for your service.

        • Mary says

          Or else you were too stupid to realize “Ms. Moderate” made the comment to which you responded and addressed me by name.

          • Carolyn K Gibson says

            I will never forget how our “President” was shown smiling and having fun at the golf course while the family of the young man gruesomely beheaded mourned his death. It was a disgusting display of disregard for the family as well as our country. What an embarrassment. How about Obamacare and the countless people who lost their health insurance or were no longer able to go to their doctors while others have enjoyed free healthcare and myriad free handouts on the backs of taxpaying citizens. How about Obama agreeing to allow thousands of adult male refugees in our country without any coherent vetting process. Benghazi…the way he treats one of our most important allies, Israel. Celebrating veterans day by going to Japan which was despicable. He is the worst president we have ever had. I am not male and I was offended by your previous rush to judgment about how one thinks based on their gender.

          • all the usual suspects says

            Opinions are like @ssholes – everybody has got one. Some just like to exercise their 1st amendment rights more than others especially on this site. Sometimes we are blessed with some original thought but usually it is some repeated sheeple BS they heard on a mindless 24-7 noise program.

  4. USAToday says

    Thanks for the article. Just went to the store and bought a couple solar spotlights. I had forgotten some of this from my Boy Scout days. More flags the better, in my book. Fly that shit proud. This day and age when we have so many people in this country essentially “ashamed” to be American, we need to remind people that there are those of us who LOVE this country. I would rather see someone a little ‘lazy’ with the rules fly their flag than not fly it.

  5. Arturro Nasney says

    The distribution wharehouse, mentioned in the article, is a great and very patriotic business. There ar specific dates when the flag is flown at half staf, with or without the permission of the ccupant of the people’s house. Directing that all federal buildings fly their flags at half staff for any end every death iis not only ignorant it is flat out disrespectful of those for whom it is properly lowered. Even though the radical islam terrorist attacks are horrible they , in no way, reach the level of lowering the flag. I refused to lower mine while W. was in charge as well as the current narcisist.

  6. Mary says

    I think it’s foreign owned. Just saying. There’s possibly more than one that didn’t.

  7. frank says

    “I’m sure laziness, complacency, ignorance and a lack of responsibility are more likely to blame. So…. Please…”

    Mary Paramore should stick to the facts and leave her color commentary for the sewing circle.

      • Mary says

        Yeah, it was strong, but what other reasons are there? “Shoot. Forgot and I’m in bed” would be lazy. “I’m sure so and so took care of it” is complacency.Not knowing flag rules is technically ignorance of the rules, and “I don’t care what the rules are” is a lack of responsibility. So, these reasons coupled with making a perhaps unintended unpatriotic statement by choosing to ignore the protocol I felt was fairly comprehensive, but I’m open to other viewpoints as to WHY.

        FYI, I thought that up all by myself, while I was sewing.

        • Disabled Veteran says

          Clearly you have thought out exactly every reason you choose not to fly the stars and bars. I’m gonna take a wild assed guess and bet you never bothered serving your country either…… No doubt it was just too much to ask of you.

          The fact you berate others for thing you admit to lacking the intestinal fortitude others do speaks volumes.

          Mary you are truly what is wrong with this country complaining about people who at least are putting in the effort while you do nothing but complain.

          Do us a favor and if you lack the ability to keep that sewer hole for a mouth shut move to another country where your vitriol is acceptable because I didn’t serve to protect horrible people such as yourself.

          • I like Mary says

            The Stars and Bars is the nickname for the Confederate flag. You remember, the ones who thought slavery was a good thing?

            Free speech is for everyone, even those whose speech you find unappealing. Mary didn’t use any profanity; disagreement with your opinion does not count as vitriol.

            People who disagree with you are not horrible because they hold an opinion other than that which you hold.

            Mary stated she was a veteran, like you.

    • Karen says

      Not fair Frank, Mary made the statement she doesn’t fly the flag because she admits it’s just to tough and she wouldn’t want someone to label her as being an ignorant person lacking responsibility as she claims others are.. And if the Mary in the responses is the same Mary that wrote the article…… well damn she has a future at Faux news.

  8. Joe Citizen says

    Meanwhile, people are dialing 911 and Police departments to ask about fire works.

    The good news I hear, in about 10 years we can rename Harford County to Heroin County. The amount of OD and suspected OD calls on a daily basis is increasing at a rate that no one knows what to do, and then I read in another article the alarming rate of hit and runs there are. LOL

    • Duh says

      Fireworks are illegal in Maryland, and a public nuisance. With any luck some drunk asses lost some fingers. I hope they were out writing tickets to whomever they saw lighting off illegal fireworks.

      • Joe Citizen says

        I’m sorry you.misunderstoof with your sarcastic username, people were calling 911 asking if PUBLIC fireworks were a “go” or not, since it was raining all afternoon and evening. Like the Bel Air town fireworks display.

        I highly doubt “illegal” use of fireworks is “hit hard” on holidays.

  9. Just a Thought says

    Just another thought. I read the code of flag etiquette and believe that most people have never read the code. Examples of common violations include flags that are entirely blue and black, flags flying off the backs of pick-up trucks or motorcycles, and flags as logos on shirts. I am sure most people could identify even more common violations.

    I can understand how men and women who put their lives on the line would be easily ofended at disrespect for the flag. And I hope that the same amount of attention and respect given the flag will also be given to all our fellow citizens.

    • Another Thought says

      “I can understand how men and women who put their lives on the line would be easily ofended at disrespect for the flag.”

      You would be amazed to find out just how many of those men and women who are flying the flag from their motorcycle, truck or wearing a shirt with the flag symbol are the very veterans who put their lives on the line for our country.

      What the flag represents first and foremost is “freedom.” The very freedom that those who are veterans served to preserve, and now many practice that freedom by displaying the freedom symbol in their own way. Feel free to tell that veteran just how much you dislike the dishonor and disrespect he/she is demonstrating by their display of the flag.