The Foxhole: Paying proper tribute to our flag

In this column, I will be writing on topics that are relevant to active-duty military, veterans, their families and the American Legion. There will be no political partisanship in these writings, merely topics to inform, enlighten and maybe even amuse. I would be happy to have suggestions as to topics or answer any questions you may have on these subjects.

Since I have had several people approach me, I will touch upon flag etiquette today. Here are some basics to remember.

  • Senate Bill 3001, which was passed and signed into law in 2009, now gives all non-uniformed military personnel and veterans the right to render a hand salute instead of placing their right hand over their heart. The exceptions to this are directives from the Navy and Marine Corps that non-uniformed active duty personnel may not render a hand salute.

  • When the flag passes in a parade in front of or on the side of your position, everyone should rise and gentlemen remove their hat. Everyone should place their right hand over their heart until it is three steps past.

  • When you hear taps or the National Anthem, whether sung or not, again, everyone should rise, men remove their caps and place their right hand over their heart. You should face the flag, or if not visible, face the direction the music is coming from.

  • The American flag should not be used in an advertising or commercial way, nor should the actual flag be used as any type of clothing. Articles of clothing that represent the image of the flag are permissible.

  • The flag should always be maintained in good condition. It may be mended or washed to bring it to respectable, display condition.

  • Once it is no longer serviceable, i.e. faded colors, worn or shredded, it should be properly “retired.” The easiest way to do this is to contact your local American Legion Post and give it to them for disposal. Post 86 in Wilton conducts a Flag Retirement Ceremony every fall for this purpose.

  • The display of the flag is very important as well. If there is more than one flag to display, there are a couple options. A) The American flag should be in the middle of the others and at a higher point than any other flag; if the flags are on one pole, the American flag is on top. B) If they are lined up on the same line horizontally the American flag is displayed to its own right. This means as passers-by observe the flag, it should be to their far left. If it hangs against a flat surface the blue field should be on the top left.

Post 86 is always ready to help anyone in the community wishing to learn more about our flag. We have given classes in the past to Cub Scout troops and to Our Lady of Fatima school, where the eighth grade students are responsible for raising and lowering the flag each day.

If any citizen of any age, organization or school wishes a formal or informal lesson about the flag, please contact me at: We will set up a time and place to meet. The post being ideal as we are centrally located and have the outdoor flags to use.
Tom Moore
Adjutant, Post 86