As Americans, Memorial Day has largely become the unofficial kickoff to summer with outdoor excursions, barbecues, picnics, and time spent with family. And yet, it's important that we take a moment to remember the reason we commemorate Memorial Day each year: honoring the men and women who have died serving in the United States Armed Forces. Therefore, as you prepare for your three-day weekend, keep in mind the proper protocol for flying a flag on this day.
According to United States Code Title 4 Chapter 1, Section 7, "the flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff."
A good way to remember when the flag should fly at half-staff is to think of when the entire nation is mourning. For instance, upon order of the President, the American flag can be lowered to half-staff on day when a military, political, or important public figure passes away as a mark of respect to their memory.
When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting from your home—a window, balcony, or other outcropping—the union should be at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff. You can affix a memorial streamer of black crepe to the staff immediately below the spearhead of the flag. It should be no wider than 1 foot in order to match the proportionality of the standard size flag. This is an acceptable alternative for flags that cannot be lowered to half-staff.
Proper flag etiquette also requires you to ensure that the flag is in pristine condition. There should be no holes or tears, and the color should be vibrant, not faded. In the instance of bad weather, you should not fly the flag unless it is an all-weather flag. If the flag is not in good condition, properly dispose of the American flag, and obtain a new one to properly display.
Want to learn more? In this video, Martha shows how to fold an American flag into a triangle: