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Treatment and etiquette tips for the American flag

Monday - 9/1/2014, 7:53am  ET

American flag (WTOP/Kristi King)
A U.S. flag is unfurled at Justice Department offices downtown on D Street in Northwest. (WTOP/Kristi King)
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WASHINGTON -- Labor Day is a uniquely American holiday and a good time to remind people that federal law dictates how U.S. flags should be displayed and treated.

"The American flag is a symbol of our country," says Joe Davis, a spokesman for Veterans of Foreign Wars. "When you look at it, it should be inspirational."

Here are some of the rules for proper treatment of the American Flag:

  • When a flag is so damaged or worn that it's no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our county, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.
  • When the flag is lowered, it should not touch the ground or any other object.
  • The flag never should be used for advertising purposes.
  • The flag should be lighted at all times by sunlight or other appropriate light source.

"We're still a nation at war," Davis says, adding that the American flag is on the shoulders of all of the soldiers in combat zones today.

"When they bring it out and they sing the ‘Star-Spangled Banner' at sporting events, you stand up and you sing. We're Americans," he says.

To show proper respect during the National Anthem, Davis says people should remove hats and put hands over their hearts and not talk, eat or chew gum.

"Being an American is something to be very, very proud of and it's something that should be celebrated every single day," Davis says.

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