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September 11: A time to also honor the ‘Stars and Stripes’

On October 25, 2001, U.S. House of Representatives Joint Resolution 71, requesting the President designate September 11 of each year as “Patriot Day”, was approved by a vote of 407-0.
President George W. Bush signed the resolution into law on December 18, 2001 as a discretionary day of remembrance.
On this day, the President directs the American flag be flown at half-staff and displayed from individual American homes, at the White House and on all U.S. government buildings and establishments, home and abroad.
The President also asks Americans to observe a moment of silence beginning at 8:46 a.m. (Eastern Daylight Time) marking the first plane crash on September 11, 2001.
There are many occasions throughout the year where the American flag is to be displayed.
With so many people honoring this country, and those who gave their lives for it, there are a few rules of etiquette that apply when displaying the flag.
Traditional customs and practices of displaying the flag and insuring that it is properly honored were gathered together by veterans and other patriotic organizations over 60 years ago. These served as a guide until World War II when Congress prepared a formal code of flag etiquette to assure uniform practices throughout the nation.
Presented in a joint resolution by both Houses of the 77th Congress, the code became public law on December 22, 1942.
The resolution serves as a guide for all citizens who are not required to conform to regulations or rules of the Armed Forces or various other branches of government.
The flag should be displayed on all days when the weather permits, especially on New Year’s Day, Inauguration Day, Lincoln’s birthday, Washington’s birthday, Easter Sunday, Loyalty and Law Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving and Christmas among other special occasions.
When raising the flag, one should do so briskly, never raising it while it is still furled. Lowering the flag should be done so ceremoniously, slowly and with dignity. The flag should be gathered and folded before it hits the ground.
While the raising and lowering of the flag can be an incredibly patriotic moment, many individuals display a flag from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle from their window sill, porch or the side of their house. When doing so, the union (blue field) of the flag should be placed at the peak of the staff, unless the flag is to be displayed at half-staff.
The flag is to be flown from sunrise to sunset on buildings, homes and flagpoles and may be displayed in darkness only if it is illuminated by sufficient light.
When displaying the flag horizontally or vertically, the union should be on the top left. This is a common mistake, especially when flying the flag vertically.
The custom of lowering the flag to half-mast or half-staff, one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff, is centuries old. It comes from the old military practice of “Striking the Colors” in time of war as a sign of submission. As early as 1672, the flying of a flag at half-staff was a sign of mourning, and this custom has been continued throughout the centuries to present day. Traditionally, the national flag flies at half-mast only when the entire country mourns.
On Memorial Day, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff until noon, at which time it is to be raised to the top of the staff.
When it is to be flown at half-staff, the flag should first be raised to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. Before lowering the flag for the day, it should again be raised to the peak and then ceremoniously lowered.
While there are many rules that accompany the displaying of the flag, the most important thing to remember is many Americans have died protecting this country and this flag which deserves our utmost honor and respect. The Stars and Stripes stand for the land, the people, the government and the ideals of the United States, no matter when or where it is displayed.