Ronald Reagan famously said; “When we honor our flag, we honor what we stand for as a Nation – freedom, equality, justice, and hope.”
The American flag is so much more than a piece of cloth. It is an important part of U.S. history. When we honor the flag, we are paying respect to the country and those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for the liberties we enjoy today.
Considering the importance of the flag, there are certain rules of etiquette that come along with it. Some of these you might already know, but there are also others you might not even be aware of. Reader’s Digest recently checked in with patriotic organizations for the ultimate guide to things you can and should not do regarding the flag.
Based on those findings, here are five mistakes you might be making without even realizing it:
1. Carrying the flag horizontally during parades. There is no law governing how you carry the American flag in a parade, but the proper etiquette is to ensure the flag is “always aloft and free.”
2. Wearing the flag as a piece of clothing. Katy Perry did it and so did Kid Rock but just because these pop stars wore the American flag, it does not mean you should. The flag is not a piece of clothing.
3. You use American flag napkins. It is tempting to go all out for Independence Day, but when it comes to choosing what napkins to buy for your Fourth of July picnic, steer clear from the ones with prints of the American flag. The code clearly states that the flag should not be “printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.”
4. Flying the flag at half-mast for a fallen friend. It might seem like an honorable thing to do, but flying the American flag at half-staff for a fallen friend – even a soldier – is frowned upon. This practice is reserved for the president and state governors.
5. Sewing an American flag patch onto your sports uniform. You might want to show your patriotism by sewing a badge of the American flag on your sports uniform, but this goes against flag code, which says no part of the flag “should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.”