Flag Etiquette: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Did you know that there are certain rules about our nation's flag? Come and learn about some of these rules, including how to display and acknowledge the flag as well as some rules about what not to do with the flag.

What is Etiquette?

Did someone teach you table manners at some point in your life? If so, they probably taught you to do things such as chew with your mouth closed, put your napkin in your lap and keep your elbows off the table.

This is known as etiquette, which is a set of rules or behaviors that are considered polite. Etiquette isn't just found at the dinner table, though. It is found in many areas of our lives, including when we are near the United States flag.

Just like the dinner table, flag etiquette is put into place to be polite and to show respect for the flag. This shows patriotism and is evidence that you are proud of your country. Protocols and procedures that show flag etiquette are outlined in the U.S. Flag Code.

Flag Placement

There are many rules about how a flag should be displayed. Think about your most prized possession. You wouldn't just throw it on the floor, would you? The same goes for our flag. After all, it is the symbol of our country, so it should be displayed with respect and dignity.

For example, the flag should never be in the darkness. Therefore, when displaying it outside, the flag should be taken down after sunset or have a light shining on it at all times. Also, the flag should not be displayed in bad weather. So, if you have a flag on a flagpole outside, it is best to take it down during a rainstorm. If the United States flag is displayed indoors with other flags from different states or groups, it should be placed highest and in the middle.

Sometimes, the flag is flown at half-staff when something bad happens, meaning that the flag flies halfway up the flagpole instead of at the top. This is done to show respect when a president or other major government official passes away. The flag has also been flown at half-staff during times of mourning after national or international tragedies, like after the September 11th attacks. Other countries practice this, as well.

Canada flies their flag at half-staff, too.

Behavior Around the Flag

There are certain behaviors that are expected when in the presence of the flag. First of all, citizens who are in uniform should salute the flag, such as police, firefighters and military. A proper salute means that the person raises their right hand to their forehead with their fingers together.

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