On July 4, we honor the upcoming holiday that honors the sacrifices made by our forefathers in gaining Independence.
Lowering of the Flag
Except for sporting events, flying the Stars and Stripes and playing the anthem and following proper etiquette is uncommon outside schools. When flags are lowered in civic ceremonies, often only the color guard is involved and the process is silent and solemn.
Proper etiquette dictates that all participants stand at attention and face the flag (chest-out proud, with arms and hand to the side.) Even those who are not United States Citizens are expected to stop and wait for the end of the ceremony. Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to see many citizens simply walk by during the process.
Playing the National Anthem or Reciting the Pledge of Allegiance
Every American schoolchild is taught to stop all other activities, face the flag and remain silent while holding their hands over their heart during the National Anthem or when they recite the Pledge of Allegiance.
Stop what you are doing if you are present during a ceremony where the American flag is either hoisted or lowered, when the flag is paraded or passes in review, when the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, or when the National Anthem is played, beginning at the first note of the Anthem.
If you do not want to be involved in the ceremony, you should head immediately indoors or leave the area before the process begins. If you can hear the music, consider yourself a part of the ceremony.
To The Color is a bugle call to render honors to the nation and commands all the same courtesies as the National Anthem. It is often used when no band is available to render honors.
All people present at an outdoor ceremony should stop what they are doing, turn to face the flag, refrain from moving and talking, and stand at attention. Citizens should place their right hand over the heart. If you cannot see the flag, turn to face the music.
Citizens of other countries who are present should stand at attention, though they are not required to place their right hands over their hearts. But at a minimum, in order to show proper respect for America, all people should stop and remain silent.
The flag lowering ceremony will be over in less than five minutes.
Hats. Civilians wearing hats may remove it with your right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, so that your hand is located over the heart.
Uniforms. All persons present in uniform should render a military salute. (This includes military persons, Boy and Girl Scouts, and others in official uniforms as well.
Military Members and Veterans. You may also see veterans and others keeping their civilian hats (“headgear”) on and saluting the flag. Members of the Armed Forces and military veterans and retirees who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute.
Unless you are a military veteran, if you are wearing a hat, remove it and place it over your heart.
If the flag is moving in a parade, at the moment the flag passes you, all persons should face the flag and come to attention while following the above conduct should be rendered at the moment the flag passes you. (Because a flag is flown on the front of military staff cars – those that carry high-ranking officials – military members salute the flag when it passes.)
While we refer to this as flag etiquette, it is actually codified in law. The “Flag Code” is found in Title 4 of the United States Code and the section of Title 36 which designates the Star-Spangled Banner as the national anthem and provides instructions on how to display the flag during its rendition. The “Flag Code” includes instructions and rules on such topics as the pledge of allegiance, time and occasions for display, and how to show proper respect for the flag.
Take a moment to celebrate this Independence Day by honoring both the American flag and military veterans who have fought to keep the country safe and free.
I can think of no better place to do it than on Main Street, U.S.A.