Flying our flag

Guards folding the flag at Main Library
Guards folding the flag at Main Library

How many of you fly the flag at home?

At the library we fly them every day. Every sunny morning we unfold the American and Arizona flags and run them up the pole, and we take them down every day around sunset, then fold them carefully.

If you were a boy or girl scout, were in the military, or have worked for a department of the government, you are going to be very familiar with flag etiquette. Just in case, here are some things to know.

One of the most frequent questions we get is "What do you do when your flag gets ragged?" Most people know that you don't just throw it out, but they're not sure what you are supposed to do.

It is called "retiring" the flag. You can do the ceremonial retirement yourself, but it is easier to bring it to an official collection point established by the VFW, and let them perform the ceremony. Here in Tucson, one such collection point is the Murphy-Wilmot Library. Bring your folded flag in, and deposit it in the special box at the right of the entrance. The library's address is 530 N. Wilmot Rd., very close to St. Joseph's Hospital. If the library isn't convenient, there are many other locations you can use.

Speaking of folding the flag, there are rules on that too.

  1. Main Library guards folding the flag
    Main Library guards folding the flag

    It takes 2 people! One to hold the blue end, and one to hold the striped end.

  2. You fold it long-wise, with the opening at the top, then fold it long-wise one more time.
  3. Then you start with the stripes end and fold it in triangles, again, and again, and again, until you get to the other end. It should all fold perfectly.
  4. Main Library guards folding the flagCheck to make sure that only the blue portion is showing, none of the red.
  5. Store it in a safe, dry place where it can't get dirty or touch the ground.

I don't have a flagpole, but would like to display the flag anyway

It is fine to hang it vertically or horizontally in a window or from the eaves of your house, as long as the stars are on the left to anyone looking at it from the street. The stars should always be in the upper left corner.

Do you have to take it down every night? Or when it storms?

At our libraries we do, and on military posts they do, as "Taps" is played. However, the flag can be left up after dark if it is directly lit.

If the flag is made of all-weather fabric it can be left up in stormy weather. These days, most flags are all-weather.

Do you have more questions? The VFW has accurate, helpful answers on their website. The American Legion website is also a very good resource for answers.

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