Designated Days When Citizens Should Display the American Flag

Feb 16th, 2016


The National Flag Conference adopted the National Flag Code on June 14, 1923. That code was designed to provide guidance on displaying and caring for the American flag. In 1942, Congress enacted a federal law based on the National Flag Code.


It is interesting to note that when Congress passed the National Flag Code, it provided for imprisonment of up to one year and/or a fine for anyone that burned, mutilated, defaced, physically defiled, maintained on the floor, or trampled the American flag. In 1990, the Supreme Court of the United States held that portion of the law unconstitutional based on the First Amendment of the constitution that protects free speech.


According to the federal National Flag Code, citizens are urged to display the American flag on certain days of the year. Those days were chosen based on citizen tradition, military tradition and presidential proclamations.


Note that the dates that designate Monday’s rather than the actual date of an event is due to the federal Uniform Monday Holiday Act that went into effect in 1971. That act established the observance of certain holidays on Mondays so that federal employees would have more three-day weekends during the year.


The National Flag Code urges citizens to display their flags on the following days:


New Years Day – January 1


Inauguration Day – January 20 every fourth year unless that date falls on a Sunday, then it will be observed on the 21st. This date is the ceremonial event that marks the commencement of the president of the United States four-year term in office.


Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday – the third Monday in January. This holiday honors King’s advocacy of nonviolence during the civil rights movement in the 1960s.


Lincoln’s Birthday - February 12. Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States. He opposed slavery and refused to acknowledge the Confederacy’s secession from the Union.


Washington’s Birthday - third Monday in February. George Washington was the first president and one of the founding fathers of the United States. Note that many states refer to this holiday as Presidents Day. That name was not officially designated, it came about because of the misconception that by not observing Washington’s birthday on its actual day, the holiday was actually combining Lincoln’s, February 12, and Washington’s birthday, February 22, into one holiday. Note that there are some states that have officially named Washington’s birthday as Presidents Day and combine the celebrations of Lincoln and Washington’s birthdays to one day.


Easter Sunday – variable – falls between March 22nd and April 25th each year. The variation occurs because the date is a moveable feast – meaning that the date falls on the Sunday following the Paschal, or Passover, full moon of each year. Easter is a Christian holiday that celebrates the resurrection of Jesus Christ.


Mother’s Day - second Sunday in May


Armed Forces Day - third Saturday in May. This holiday is a day to pay tribute to the men and woman who serve in the armed forces.

Memorial Day - the last Monday in May (Note that the flag should be flown at half-staff until noon). This day has been designated to honor the men and woman who have died while serving in the armed forces.


Flag Day - June 14. This holiday commemorates the day in 1777 that the United States adopted its official flag. Each year the President of the United States must issue a proclamation urging citizens to display the American flag and for its display on all federal government buildings. In 1966, Congress also issued a resolution that the president designate the week that includes June 14 as National Flag Week and urge citizens to display the flag throughout that week.


Independence Day - July 4. This holiday commemorates the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. That document declared the 13 colonies as the United States of America, a new nation that was no longer under British rule.


Labor Day - first Monday in September. Labor day is dedicated to the contributions and achievements of workers in America that strengthened the United States and helped it prosper.


Constitution Day - September 17. This holiday recognizes the date in 1787 that the United States Constitution was signed and individuals who became United States citizens.


Columbus Day - second Monday in October. This holiday is a celebration of the anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ discovery of America.


Armed Forces Day - October 27. This day was originally called Navy Day and was designated to celebrate the United States Navy. In 1949, the name was changed to Armed Forces Day.


Veterans Day - November 11. This day was designated to honor military veterans.


Thanksgiving Day - fourth Thursday in November


Christmas Day - December 25


Other days include the date each state was admitted into the United States, state holidays, and other days that may be proclaimed by the United States president.


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