According to Martha Stewart:
Here are some tips to make sure your tribute is a respectful one:
- Display the flag only between sunrise and sunset on buildings and stationary flagstaffs. The flag may be displayed for twenty-four hours if illuminated in darkness.
- Do not display the flag in inclement weather.
- Whether displaying the flag vertically or horizontally, make sure the canton of stars is visible on the upper left-hand side.
- Do not let the flag touch the ground.
- The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
- Before flying a flag at half-staff, hoist to its peak for an instant before lowering it.
- When displayed against a wall with another flag, their staffs crossed, the American flag should be on the right of the other flag (on the viewer's left), with its staff on top of that of the other flag.
- When flags of states, cities, or localities are flown on the same halyard with the United States flag, the national flag should always be at the top. No other flag should be placed above, or if on the same level, to the flag's right.
- When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they should be flown from separate staffs of equal height. The flags should be of approximately equal size.
- When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle, the canton should be placed at the peak of the staff.
- An unusable flag that is damaged and worn and can no longer be displayed should be destroyed in a dignified way by burning.
- When not on display, the flag should be respectfully folded into a triangle, symbolizing the tricorn hats worn by colonial soldiers in the Revolutionary War.
First Published: July/August 1999
And when not in use, the flag should be folded like so:
When not on display, the United States flag should be folded into a triangle, emblematic of the three-cornered hats worn by Colonial soldiers in the Revolutionary War. It takes two people to do it properly, as the flag should never touch the ground during any lowering or folding.
1. Both people should hold out the flag waist high, with its surface parallel to the ground. Fold the flag in half lengthwise, bringing the striped lower section over the canton (the blue field of stars).
2. Fold it again lengthwise, bringing the canton to the outside.
3. Start a triangular fold by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge up to meet the open edge. The outer point is then turned inward to form a second triangle. Continue folding the flag in this manner seven more times.
4. The last triangular fold brings the red and white stripes into the star-strewn blue field, symbolizing the day's light vanishing into the darkness of the night. When the flag is completely folded, only the blue field and stars should be visible. Tuck the remaining flap into the pocket formed between the stars and stripes.
First Published: July/August 1998
(Images from MarthaStewart.com. I don't think she'd mind)
According to the McCain/Palin kicking the flag and dragging it on the ground is perfectly acceptable, as was witnessed after a rally he held in St. Charles, Missouri:
dakine01 over at Attackerman summed it up:
I learned about care and handling of the US flag in Boy Scouts with reinforcement through years of military HS, college ROTC and active duty in the Air Force. The minimally acceptable handling with this (if unable to actually lower the flag in a traditional fashion), would be to have folks stationed to catch the flag as the pole is brought down, keeping it from brushing the ground.
But lowering it in a traditional fashion and folding it with an honor guard would have been far better. They couldn’t find a local VFW/American Legion/High School ROTC detachment/Police Honor Guard/Boy Scout or Girl Scout Troop to deal with this? Boy McCain folks must REALLY hate America