Stars and Stripes

Sound "To the Colors"!
The United States Army Band (Daily Sequence of Bugle Calls)

I am the flag of the United States of America. My name is Old Glory. I fly atop the world's tallest buildings. I stand watch in America's halls of justice. I fly majestically over great institutions of learning. I stand guard with the greatest military power in the world. Look up and see me!

I stand for peace – honor – truth and justice. I stand for freedom. I am confident – I am resolved – I am proud.

When I am flown with my fellow banners, my head is a little higher – my colors a little truer.

I am recognized all over the world. I am respected – I am loved and I am feared! And when attacked, my goal is victory.

I have fought in every battle of every war for more than 200 years: Gettysburg, San Juan Hill, the trenches of France, the Argonne Forest, Anzio, Rome, the beaches of Normandy, Guam, Okinawa, Japan, Korea, Vietnam, in the Persian Gulf and a score of places long forgotten, by all but those who were there with me ... I was there!

I led my soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. I followed them and watched over them. They loved me.

I was on a small hill in Iwo Jima, I was dirty, battle worn and tired. But my soldiers cheered me! And I was proud!

I have been soiled, burned, torn and trampled on in the streets of countries I have helped set free, but it does not hurt – for at least and at last, they are free!

I have flown over the rubble in New York City after a dastardly attack on America and the free world, where thousands of my citizens and other nations' citizens perished - and that does hurt. And my miracle men and women of the armed forces who are fighting to free Iraq and Afghanistan from the control of tyrannical dictators who have held their own people as slaves and who sponsor and train terrorists to bring havoc to all freedom loving people everywhere. The magnificent men and women of our military look up to me as they fight to turn the tide of this ruthless and despicable enemy. And how disheartening and demoralizing it is for my troops to hear the caustic and critical words from those who want and demand immediate success at no cost to anyone. Remember America, freedom doesn't come overnight – freedom has a cost! And now our troops are working around the clock to bring order and purpose out of "Katrina's" attack on our own soil, and I am proud of them as over any military victory in our history.

But I shall overcome – for I am stronger than the terrorists cowards and dictators who have now sealed their own fate- defeat! And this nation will not remain incapacitated by the forces of nature. Mark my word - we will not fail.

I have been a silent witness to all of America's finest hours and I now long to see us united as never before, but my finest hour comes when I am torn in strips to be used as bandages for my wounded comrades on the field of battle. When I fly at half-mast to honor my soldiers, my sailors, my airmen, my marines, firemen and policemen and medical workers, and when I lie in the trembling arms of a grieving mother at the graveside of her fallen son.

America, I am proud to be your flag and your banner for freedom. My name is "Old Glory". Long may I wave. Dear god, long may I wave!

Flag Folding

Step 1: Bring the striped half up over the blue field.

Step 2: Then fold it in half again.

Step 3: Bring the lower striped corner to the upper edge forming a triangle.

Step 4: Then fold the upper point in to form another triangle.  Continue until the entire length of the flag is folded.

Step 5: When you get near the end - with nothing but the blue field showing - tuck the last bit into the other folds to secure it.


At military funerals the honor guard pays meticulous attention to correctly folding the American flag 13 times.  Why is that? Each fold of the U.S. flag has an important meaning.

1. The first fold of our flag is a symbol of life.

2. The second fold is a symbol of our belief in eternal life.

3. The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of our country to attain peace throughout the world.

4. The fourth fold represents our weaker nature, for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.

5. The fifth fold is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, "Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong."

6. The sixth fold is for where our hearts lie. It is with our heart that we pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for all.

7. The seventh fold is a tribute to our Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies, whether they are found within or without the boundaries of our republic.

8. The eighth fold is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day, and to honor mother, for whom it flies on Mother's Day.

9. The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for it has been through their faith, their love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great has been molded.

10. The tenth fold is a tribute to the father, for he, too, has given his sons and daughters for the defense of our country since they were first born.

11. The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen represents the lower portion of the seal of King David and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

12. The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity and glorifies, in their eyes, God the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit.

13. When the flag is completely folded, the stars are uppermost reminding us of our nation's motto, "In God We Trust". After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a cocked hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington, and the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones. Those who were followed by their comrades and shipmates in the Armed Forces of the United States, preserving for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms we enjoy today.

Illustrated Procedure

When to Display your Flag

The flag should be displayed from sunrise to sunset on all days when weather permits and particulary on the following occasions : 


  • New Year's Day - January 1
  • Inauguration Day
  • Martin Luther King's Birthday - Third Monday in January.
  • Lincoln's Birthday
  • Washington's Birthday - February 22
  • Easter Sunday
  • Mother's Day - Second Sunday in May
  • Armed Forces Day - Third Saturday in May
  • Memorial Day (Half-staff until noon) - Last Monday in May
  • Flag Day - June 14th
  • Independence Day - July 4th
  • Labor Day - First Monday in September
  • Constitution Day - September 17th
  • Columbus Day - October 12th
  • Navy Day
  • Veterans Day - November 11th
  • Thanksgiving Day - Fourth Thursday in November
  • Christmas Day - December 25th
  • Election Days (various)

Federally observed dates of the holidays listed may differ from the dates specified.  Added to the list are days that may be proclaimed by the President of the United States as well as State and local holidays.

Flag Etiquette and Standards of Respect

The Flag Code formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which we give respect to the flag.  It also contains instructions on how the flag is not to be abused, specifically ... 


1.  The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing.
2.  It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.

3.  The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speakers desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general.  Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes.  The blue stripe of bunting should be on top.

4.  The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. 

5.  Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard

6.  The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.

7.  The flag should never have placed on it, or attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind.

8.  The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

9.  When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms.  To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.

10.  The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.

11.  When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner. 


Displaying the Flag Outdoors

When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a window, balcony, or a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff.  When it is displayed from the same flagpole with another flag - of a state, community, society or Scout unit - the flag of the United States must always be at the top except that the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for Navy personnel when conducted by a Naval chaplain on a ship at sea. 

When the flag is displayed over a street, it should be hung vertically, with the union to the north or east. If the flag is suspended over a sidewalk, the flag's union should be farthest from the building. 

When flown with flags of states, communities, or societies on separate flag poles which are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor - to its own right.  The other flags may be smaller but none may be larger.  No other flag ever should be placed above it.  The flag of the United States is always the first flag raised and the last to be lowered. 

When flown with the national banner of other countries, each flag must be displayed from a separate pole of the same height.  Each flag should be the same size.  They should be raised and lowered simultaneously.  The flag of one nation may not be displayed above that of another nation. 

Raising and Lowering the Flag

The flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously.  Ordinarily it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset.  It should be illuminated if displayed at night.

The flag of the United States of America is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered.  The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of music, whichever is the longest. 

Displaying the Flag Indoors


When on display, the flag is accorded the place of honor, always positioned to its own right.  Place it to the right of the speaker or staging area or sanctuary.  Other flags should be to the left. 

The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of states, localities, or societies are grouped for display. 

When one flag is used with the flag of the United States of America and the staffs are crossed, the flag of the United States is placed on its own right with its staff in front of the other flag. 

When displaying the flag against a wall, vertically or horizontally, the flag's union (stars) should be at the top, to the flag's own right, and to the observer's left. 

Parading and Saluting the Flag


When carried in a procession, the flag should be to the right of the marchers.  When other flags are carried, the flag of the United States may be centered in front of the others or carried to their right.  When the flag passes in a procession, or when it is hoisted or lowered, all should face the flag and salute. 

The Salute 

To salute, all persons come to attention.  Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute. Citizens not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over the heart and men with head cover should remove it and hold it to left shoulder, hand over the heart.  Members of organizations in formation salute upon command of the person in charge.

The Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem

The pledge of allegiance should be rendered by standing at attention, facing the flag, and saluting.

When the national anthem is played or sung, citizens should stand at attention and salute at the first note and hold the salute through the last note.  The salute is directed to the flag, if displayed, otherwise to the music. 

The Flag in Mourning


To place the flag at half staff, hoist it to the peak for an instant and lower it to a position half way between the top and bottom of the staff.  The flag is to be raised again to the peak for a moment before it is lowered.  On Memorial Day the flag is displayed at half staff until noon and at full staff from noon to sunset. 

The flag is to be flown at half staff in mourning for designated, principal government leaders and upon presidential or gubernatorial order. 

When used to cover a casket, the flag should be placed with the union at the head and over the left shoulder.  It should not be lowered into the grave.

Flag Retirements

Post 411 maintains both a collection box and storage faciltiy for proper disposal of American flags.  The collection box is located adjacent to our rear entrway. 

A formal retirement ceremony is performed on Flag Day  -- 14 June  --  each year in conjunction with the Islip Fire Department.  We also coordinate similar efforts on a broad scale with the staff of Calverton National Cemetery.

Produced by intrepid Boy Scouts, this informative 2-part video covers flag retirement ceremony organization and safety