Seven ways to disrespect the American flag

It was Flag Day today and MPR’s Nikki Tundel documents how people celebrated the nation’s flag in this impressive slideshow.

Not surprisingly, many of those people who are, no doubt, patriotic in their love for the flag, nonetheless assaulted it at the same time.

Here are a few examples from Nikki’s slideshow and references to the U.S. Flag Code.

1) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.


We can quibble about what makes a piece of cloth a flag but if you use blue, add some stars, and red-and-white stripes and intend it to symbolize the American flag, you shouldn’t wear it.

2) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.


3) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.


4) It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free.


5) Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.


6) When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left.


7) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.


  • This needs to be said and said often!

  • Kevin

    Also, the flag should be retired in the evening or in bad weather. If not retired, it should be properly illuminated.

  • Josh

    Thanks Bob. Flag apparel is one of my biggest pet peeves.

  • Jim Shapiro

    At the risk of activating Godwin’s Law, here’s one of my favorite flag quotes, by a local boy to boot!


    “When facism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross.”

    -Sinclair Lewis

  • Tyler

    The Flag Code should be taught in history class…

  • Elizabeth T

    I’m not rabid about “loving the flag”. Not even really enthusiastic compared to some. But I am 100% on board with all of these, including Kevin’s comment about weather/night. When I was young, I was taught these were important. Likely because Dad was in the military. I think it’s right today. It’s not a logo for a corporation (despite my periodic cynicism which might think so).

    If a person is rabid about Patriotism and Loving My Country etc. etc. … they need to grant respect to the symbol of our nation. Don’t give me b.s. about how much you love the military and then disrespect the symbol they use to represent the rest of us.

    Why do you think folks in foreign countries who hate/loathe/despise us burn our flag? Our flag means something to *them*. Our home-grown patriots ought to give it the respect foreign terrorists do.

  • Jon L.

    The most disrespectful display of the American Flag? Our olympic athletes drapping their sweatly bodies in it like a bath towel while making their victory lap!!!

  • Kassie

    Isn’t it also true that once the flag starts to fade and tatter it should basically be retired, or burned? I see ratty flags often, usually not lit up at night and wonder what the people who own those flags think.

  • Bob Collins

    Yes, a frayed or torn or faded flag must be retired immediately and respectfully destroyed. Usually the American Legion can take care of that.

  • @Jon L: Even worse than sweat would be an entire ocean: LOL

  • BJ

    About a month ago the local VFW gave a talk to my daughters girl scout troop (2-3rd graders) about the flag code. The girls were very impressed.

  • Kevin M

    I’ve always wondered at this, and at the idea that many people wearing and/or flying the flag in questionable ways are the same people who enthusiastically tend to support anti-desecration laws. My fiancée, the Lovely Lisa, has a collection of old magazines, and we discovered similar musings about Old Glory in one of them. I reproduced it in my blog, if anyone is interested in seeing it.

  • Greg W.

    Thank you for the very informative post. It’s amazing what people will do to the flag in the name of patriotism.

    Also, can’t any of you figure out how to put links in tags so we don’t have to copy/past the damn things? The code is even provided for you.

  • Mark Snyder

    I knew most of these, but not the apparel one.

    That surprised me a bit since I did a 3K walk for a military appreciation event last year and the T-shirt I got has a flag on it. You’d think they’d have known better?

  • Jim!!!

    I’m guessing those rules are written for official public display of the flag and not necessarily for the citizenry. Similarly companies are very picky about the color, position, and display of their logo on company materials (e.g. “MPR”). I think the rules are over the top for ordinary citizens, who is hurt by disposing of a flag by wrapping it in newspaper and throwing it in the trash?

  • Shannon

    Wrapping the flag in newspaper and then throwing it away?!?!? Where in the world did that idea come from? Because so many flags are made out of Nylon now you can’t burn them. An acceptable and proper way to dispose of them yourself is to cut them apart- cut the star field and then each stripe. And then you can dispose of the parts in the trash as it is no longer considered a “flag”.

  • Dan

    Great, now I know how to disrespect the flag even more! 😀

  • Tom

    Shannon Jim and Dan you are pieces of shit the flag is a sacred emblem of the best country in the world so it must be retired correctly if a flag cant be disposed of by burning it should be buried never throw any part of the flag away.

    and as for you dan your a loser what country do you like better than USA I will help you pack and help you get your ass out of USA

    by the way you can have a flag image on your shirt it just cant be the real US flag

  • Jess

    Relax Tom. No need for name-calling. You’re probably racist too.