On Flag Day, rights and wrongs about Old Glory

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Here at the First Amendment Center, we recognize the right to burn the American flag, if you so choose. In  Texas v. Johnson (1989), the high court found that “burning of the flag constituted expressive conduct.” Yet most Americans don’t burn flags, would never burn a flag, hate the very idea of burning a flag. Given that, we thought we’d offer you some practical tips on Flag Day.

  • Don’t display an American flag that’s frayed, tattered, worn or dirty. If you are trying to display your patriotism in order to pull in business, make sure your display is respectful.
  • If you’re going to display a flag at night, make sure it is properly lighted.
  • Flags shouldn’t be flown in the rain. (Unless it’s an all-weather flag, as a reader notes below.)

As for how to dispose properly of your old, tattered flag, the method recommended by federal code is burning, but it is not the only way.

It seems odd that, although most of us claim to respect Old Glory and shudder at the thought of its being desecrated in protest, we don’t always take proper care of our grand old flag.

P.S. Somebody might rat you out to Flag Keepers if you don’t pay proper respect to Old Glory.

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