Q. I know someone usually asks you to address how to properly display the American flag on Memorial Day, but in case they don’t, I will. I think it is important to have this in your column even if it has been there before. It’s a good reminder and there is always someone who doesn’t know or forgets. Thank you in advance.
A. Yes, it is important, and others have asked me to discuss it:
In accordance with United States Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 7(m), “on Memorial Day, the flag should be displayed at half-staff, until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff.”
If the flag is on display 24 hours a day (lighted during the hours of darkness), then the flag is merely slowly lowered at dawn to halfway down the flagpole. At noon, the flag is raised to the top of the flagpole.
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If the flag is normally only displayed on specific days, such as Memorial Day, 4th of July, etc., the proper procedure is this: In the early morning hours or at dawn, the flag is to be raised briskly to the top of the flagpole, then slowly lowered to the halfway point of the flagpole. At noon, it is raised back to the top of the flagpole. At dusk, the flag is slowly lowered and removed from the flagpole. It is critically important to make certain the flag, or any portion thereof, does not touch the ground in this process.
Another question I received was from a younger person who overheard me describing the process above. Her question was: why do we do this? Here is the answer:
Memorial Day is a holiday set aside to specifically honor and commemorate all American soldiers who have given the ultimate sacrifice, their lives, while serving our great country. It is meant to be a day of national mourning and remembrance of each one of these brave men and women. There are many ways we can show our respect:
▪ Attending or participating in various Memorial Day parades and ceremonies throughout our communities;
▪ Visiting national cemeteries, specifically the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. It is breathtakingly beautiful and moving, to see this cemetery (and all national cemeteries) on any day, but especially on Memorial Day, when a small American flag has been placed at each headstone or marker. Jefferson Barracks is the 5th largest national cemetery and one of the oldest. It was established as a national cemetery in 1866, with the first burial actually in 1827. It is beyond words to describe one’s feelings when visiting.
▪ Visiting fallen soldiers buried in other local community cemeteries and placing a flag or flowers on those graves.
▪ Taking the time to remember our own fallen family-member Veterans.
Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Patrick Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427, or email them to email@example.com.