Flag Etiquette in Rainy Weather

by Ann Oldenburg

Flying the flag is a traditional way to show your pride in the United States. According to the U.S. Code guidelines for all patriotic customs, rainy day flag etiquette dictates that you may fly the flag in inclement weather as long as the flag is made of the proper all-weather material.

History

In May 1776, Betsy Ross is said to have sewn her famous stars and stripes flag. She was struggling to run an upholstery business when Gen. George Washington, Robert Morris, and her husband's uncle, George Ross, showed her a design of the flag he wanted. She got to work. The flag was made of a heavy thick cotton.

Significance

Flag etiquette is based on showing respect for the flag. If a flag is consistently flown in rainy weather, it can get torn, tattered or otherwise damaged. The Flag Code describes the flag as a "living thing," and urges that citizens treat the patriot symbol with the respect afforded a living thing.

Types

Most flags today are all-weather flags and are marked as such on the packaging. Typically, all-weather flags are made of nylon and have brass grommets. Any all-weather flag is allowed to fly around the clock, according to the U.S. government.

Considerations

Even if you fly an all-weather flag, you should observe other etiquette rules. A flag should never touch the ground and, if you fly the flag at night, it must be properly illuminated. When raising the flag, do so briskly. Lower a flag in ceremonious fashion.

Care

Rain, high winds and other adverse weather can cause wear on flags. You can wash most outdoor flags in mild detergent and thoroughly rinse. Flags that are not made of an all-weather fabric might need to be dry-cleaned. If your flag becomes tattered, repair it or destroy it in a dignified manner, preferably by burning it.

Special Locations

Just as you are allowed to fly your all-weather flag 24 hours a day, there are several locations throughout the country that fly the flag around the clock by executive order. Among these are: The White House, the Washington Monument, the USS Arizona Memorial in Hawaii, Fort McHenry in Baltimore, Maryland, and the moon.

About the Author

Based in the Washington, D.C. area, Ann Oldenburg has been a reporter/editor/author since 1990. She has written for publications including "The Washington Post," "USA TODAY" and "TV Guide." She has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism from the University of Florida.

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