Friday, May 25, 2012

Flying the Flag on Memorial Day

Memorial Day is one of the few holidays the federal government sets aside as an official time for everyone to fly the flag. 

But flying the flag on Memorial Day is different than flying it on Independence day. This is a memorial holiday so the flag needs to be flown at half-staff but only for part of the day.

How do you correctly raise a flag to half-staff? 

What part of Memorial Day does it fly at half-staff?  And then what do you do?

Here's the scoop according to the US Flag Code
How long does the flag fly at half-staff on Memorial Day? ...
And then what do you do?
The US Flag Code: Position and Manner of Display (section m) says the flag should be flown at half-staff on Memorial Day until noon. After noon, it is then raised to the top until it is taken down:

"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" (US Flag Code).

How to fly the flag at half-staff
When the flag flies at half-staff, it needs to be raised and lowered in the same way: Make sure to run the flag up all the way to the top of the pole before lowering it to the half-staff position. When you lower the flag for the day, you need to do the same thing: make sure you run it up to the top before you completely lower it.

Needless to say, the flag never touches the ground. It is considered a sign of disrespect as the flag is not just a national symbol, but the symbol we carry into battle, the symbol for which many have given their life.

Memorial flags at the US Capitol.
The full list of holidays the flag flies at half-staff:
• Memorial Day
• Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day
on the day of and the day after the death of a United States senator, representative, territorial delegate, or the resident commissioner from the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico
on the death of a state's governor (from the day of death until interment)
• on the death of a governor of a territory or possession (from the day of death until interment)
• on days the President has indicated at his/ her discretion to mark the death of other officials, foreign dignitaries, or after other tragic events.

USFlagstore follows the flag guidelines from the US Flag Code

For complete instructions for displaying and caring the flag, see our blog page, Flag Etiquette 101.
Let it fly!


Monday, May 21, 2012

Make a Flag Bouquet!

Flag bouquet with 3 sizes of flags.
Want to make a flag bouquet? 

It's easy. We promise.

There are two basic types of flag bouquets: the bud vase technique (flag in vase) and a blossoming bouquet of flags. We're calling this The Martha and naming it after First Lady Martha Washington.


Style #1: The Bud Vase Technique
The bud vase technique takes as few as one or as many as 3-4 of our smallest stick flags and simply displays them in a small vase or even a pencil holder.
Flag in a champagne flute

That's it. Simple and cheerful. The bud vase technique is great for a side table or desk.

If you take a champagne flute and add some confetti, shreds of mylar, or even curled ribbon along with a single stick flag, it's a great addition to individual place settings. 


Style #2:
The Martha Washington Flag Bouquet
There are two secrets to a full flag bouquet and here they are:

1) Use a planter, not a vase because flags are full, big things and vases don't really work that well. We tried. We tried a lot. Let us save you the time. Get a planter.

2) Use a planter that is oval or rectangular. Round looks too confined unless it is large, over 14" in diameter. The flags want to spread out and wave so they really need the room. The planter we used is 16" wide and 6" high.

Choosing a filler
 We suggest filling the planter with styrofoam, or using a large, solid styrofoam center piece that you surround with dry rice or beans. The rice or beans are good for sticking the small flags into. The large, centerpiece of styrofoam is necessary for holding up the larger flags so nothing tips.

The traditional crossed flag design
Arranging the flags
Start with an outside ring of small stick flags. The 4"x6-8" stick flags work the best for this. We used 16 of these small stick flags but figure a minimum of 12 would be necessary to really make it look full. 

All you need to do is place the smallest flags into the styrofoam base but take a little care! Once styrofoam has holes in it, it can weaken. If you use a thick bed of dry rice or beans, you will be able to stick the flags in and not worry about this. If you use styrofoam, just be careful.

For the 2nd layer of flags, we used 4 8"x12" stick flags. We used them in pairs with each pair in the traditional crossed flag pattern, similar to the letter "X". This worked well in our oval planter as well as in a rectangular one.

For a finishing touch, we wanted a topper so we used 1 large 12"x18" stick flag in the center. Now you are done!

As an option ...
As an option, you can simply stand 3-4 8"x12" flags upright and still use a single, large 12"x18" stick flag in the center.

We'd love to see how your flag bouquet turns out. Join USFlagstore on FB and post them on our wall. In the meantime ...

Let it fly!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Armed Forces Day: Freedom Is Never Free

Courage to Stand, is a tribute to U.S. Armed Forces. 
(Produced by Canadian Trooper Matthew Worth)

We chose this video as part of our observance of Armed Forces Day as it expresses not only respect for all branches of the US military, but a point of view we believe is common to all sides of our political spectrum, namely, that our success as a nation is largely due to the freedoms we enjoy as citizens of this nation. The quote below is not an endorsement of any political party or politician. It is just the narration of this video – and a really good quote.

"Humans can not reach their potential, cannot realize their dreams unless they are free. If prosperity were easy, everyone around the world would be prosperous. If freedom were easy, everybody around the world would be free. If security were easy, everybody around the world would be secure. They are not! None of this is going to be easy, but this is the United States of America. It takes an extraordinary effort, it takes extraordinary commitment, it takes extraordinary strength. Valley Forge wasn’t easy. Going to the moon wasn’t easy. Settling the West wasn’t easy. We are the American people. We have seen difficulties before and we  always overcome them. This is about rolling up our sleeves [despite our] differences as Americans and putting our head down, and getting it done."   
~ former Wisconsin Governor Tim Pawlenty

Official Armed Forces Day poster, 2012
In the beginning, there was the Army
The U.S. Army been around since ... well, since the very beginning and it was created out of the idea of a voluntary force. 

The US Army, however, didn't celebrate an official anniversary until 1924 on National Defense Test Day, not a popular holiday. 

In 1928, the anniversary was moved to May 1, May Day, otherwise known as World Communism Day. 

That didn't make much sense either.

Then in 1936, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt chose April 6, the anniversary of our entry into World War I, as a good date to represent the anniversary of the U.S. Army. This time, the date stuck.

Official US Navy flag
Then the Navy...
From 1922-1950, Navy Day was celebrated on October 27 for two main reasons: In 1775, the Continental Congress decided to re-outfit merchant ships as warships, hence the idea of a naval corps was born. The other reason is that October 27 is the birthday of a former Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Theodore Roosevelt.

Flag of the US Marine Corps
... and the Marine Corps 
Ah, the Marines. They date to the Revolution, too. And like much about our Revolution, they find their way back to Philadelphia. 

Created on November 19, 1775, the Marines received a fare-thee-well after the Revolution. Apparently, the new government thought funding the Marines too costly. But in 1798, they were back and under the jurisdiction of the Navy. Marine Corps Day traditionally was celebrated on the Marine Corps' birthday, November 10.

The flag of the US Coast Guard
The Coast Guard is born
As Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton created the first Coast Guard in 1790 for the express purpose of collecting US tariffs.  

Coast Guard Day traditionally was celebrated on August 4.

The official Air Force flag
With the Air Force, a new age
Air Force Day was a completely different holiday. Plus, the Air Force was newer than any other military branch.

On August 1 in 1907, the Army created an aeronautical division.

On August 1 in 1947, President Truman recognized this branch of the military with an official Air Force Day, a part of the US Army. Now the Air Force is its own division of the military, the US Air Force.

US Army official flag
One Department of Defense
In 1947, the Department of Defense was created to act as a governing body for all the branches of the U.S. military. 

One holiday for all military branches
In 1950, under President Harry Truman, all the military holidays were officially consolidated into Armed Forces Day so that one day could be a day to celebrate all of our military. Within the separate branches, some of the original holidays are still celebrated.
President Truman makes Armed Forces Day official.

Let it fly!

partial  list of sources: 
American Presidency Project (
Department of Defense (
NYTimes archives
Truman Library (