Everyone should know how to raise a flag. It should be common practice in our country. Unfortunately, most people don’t have a flag at home, or even at work. Very few people get the privilege of raising an American flag, even though everyone should.
If you’ve recently installed a flagpole at home, so that you and your kids can experience the pride that comes with raising a flag, then you need to learn how to raise a flag.
The mechanics are simple, but depending on your specific pole, there may be some nuance. There are also special considerations to take into account as to when to raise and lower a flag.
Keep reading our flag raising guide below to find out now.
Table of Contents
When to Raise a Flag
Flag poles for home and business applications should be used every single day. Your flag should fly every day, as an empty flagpole is disrespectful, even in foul weather. This is especially true for American flags but isn’t as important if you have secondary flags like state flags, school flags, or others.
Raising a flag should be done first thing in the morning. Always raise your flag as high as it can go unless it’s a day of national mourning or recognition.
In the event that an American hero or serviceman or woman passes away, it’s common for the President to issue a half-staff notification. For example, in December 2021, President Biden issued a notification to fly the American Flag at half staff (half-mast) in honor of Bob Dole, who served our country during WWII and later as an American Senator.
Half staff notifications are issued for sunrise to sunset at government and commercial institutions, but should also be followed by civilians as well.
If you’ve ever noticed flags raised only halfway as you drive around town, this is why.
To perform this process, flags should first be raised to the top of the pole, then lowered to the halfway point before being tied off.
How to Raise a Flag
Need some flag raising tips? The process is easy in most settings. But if you’ve never done it before, then here’s what you need to know to ensure the flag stays up.
Know Your Terms
Hosting a flag is the process of lifting it to its highest point. Flying a flag at “half-mast” means raising it up to the top, then lowering the flag to the halfway point on your pole.
The halyard is the rope or cord that you use to actually lift and lower the flag o the pole. You tie your halyard to a cleat, similar to tying a boat to a dock.
On the halyard, you’ll have a couple of snap hooks. These hook into the grommets (holes) on the side of the flag, to stretch out the flag and allow it to be displayed properly.
The “heading” is the thick fabric on the side of the flag. This is where the grommets sit and are extra tough to withstand ripping, as it holds the flag fabric.
And if you don’t have a freestanding, vertical flagpole, there’s a good chance yours is considered an “outrigger.” These are flag poles installed to a structure at an angle.
Attaching the Flag
Bring your flag to the pole. Pull the appropriate side of the halyard to lower the snap hooks to your level. Insert the flag’s grommets into the snap hooks.
Make sure to mount the flag in an upright position. An inverted flag is widely known as a distress signal. If you’re at home, it can come off as disrespectful.
Raise the Flag
To raise the flag, pull on the side of the halyard that doesn’t contain the flag. Pulling this end down raises the flag upwards.
Raise the flag to the top of the pole. Then, tie off the halyard on the cleat. The cleat has two ends that stick out. Using these ends as your guide, run the halyard in “figure 8” shapes two or three times. Tuck the halyard between the pole and the wrapped halyard to secure it in place.
When tying the halyard, make sure to pull tight and keep it taught. If there’s any slack leftover, the flag won’t stay close to the pole, and it won’t look as good.
If you take your flag down in the evening, make sure to unhook the flag, fold it up, and store it securely.
Flag Hoisting as a Daily Ritual
In the past, it was far more common for Americans to fly flags outside of their homes and at their workplace. And raising it up each day was a tradition, almost ceremonial in nature.
In fact, many people used to play the National Anthem each time the flag was raised, to ensure reverence for the flag and for our country each and every day, just like schoolchildren proclaimed the pledge of allegiance each morning.
Today, many homeowners leave their flags flying overnight. However, you should only do this if you illuminate the flag. You should not leave a flag flying if there is no light shining onto the flag itself.
Back in the day, flags were raised up each morning at sunrise and lowered each evening at sunset. This was common in government, commercial, and residential applications.
Today, it’s more common to raise and lower the flag just before heading off to work, and right after you get home.
However you plan on doing it, make it a habit. Make it a tradition, and pass it on to your children. It’s important to remind ourselves on a daily basis that the freedom we enjoy each and every day isn’t universal. And it wasn’t free.
Fly Your Flag for All to See
Now that you know how to raise a flag, it’s time to get out there and lift your flag for all to see. Share your American pride with your neighbors. And don’t be afraid to add another flag just below the stars and stripes.
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