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Flag Day traditions -- and the Rules

June 13, 2011 |  3:35 pm

Flag day US flag Flying

Flag Day.

It's Tuesday.

The United States has had a flag since June 14, 1777, when the Second Continental Congress adopted the first unified version with 13 stars.Obama Bill Richardson and Hillary Clinton at an Iowa campaign picnic, 2007

Americans didn't pay much attention to it, however, until after the Civil War, when the conflict and improved communications increased national awareness of the "United" part of United States of America.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued one of those presidential proclamations making June 14 a day to honor the nation's flag.

Thirty-three years later, Congress got around to making the observance day official with a law that President Harry Truman signed.

But how to observe Flag Day? Well, the easiest way is to fly it. And fly it properly. No tattered flags. Burn them respectfully or give them to the Boy Scouts, who can do that.

U.S. flags may be flown 24 hours a day. But according to the unenforced rules, if the national standard stays up at night, it should be illuminated. No leaving it alone in the dark.

Here's one we didn't remember: If you're hanging the flag vertically in a window or on a wall, the blue star field should always be on the viewer's left.

The U.S. flag is also always on the viewer's left if arrayed with others. (Watch for common misplacement during the upcoming presidential campaign season, as advance event teams setting the stage confuse whose left it is.)

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photos: (from top) Old Glory. Credit: Independence Hall Assn.

Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Bill Richardson stand at an Iowa campaign picnic in 2007. Credit: Associated Press