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Common Flag Terminology Defined


Confused by certain flag-related vocabulary? Here are several definitions of common flag terminology.

Several flag related- words and terminology can be quite confusing, even to those who know their flags! Check out these definitions to some common flag vocabulary.

American Flag


  1. The Union of a Flag – The Union is the blue field in the upper left hand corner of the American flag that houses all 50 stars. This is commonly referred to in several Flag Etiquette guides since the Union should face a certain direction depending on how it’s displayed.
  2. Half-Staff – This term is used when a flag is flying midway between the top peak and the bottom of a flagpole on land. Flying a flag at half-staff is a great honor and is usually done on specific holidays or after an important public figure dies.
  3. Half-Mast – This term is often used interchangeably with half-staff when in fact they have different meanings in the USA. Half-mast means a US flag is flying midway between the summit and the bottom of a flagpole on a ship. Internationally, half-mast is used to refer to flying a lowered flag on land as well. Read more on the difference of Half-Staff vs. Half-Mast.
  4. Retiring a flag – Once a flag is unfit to fly, it should be retired. This means it is destroyed in an honorable way, usually by burning it. Flag retirement ceremonies are common and have their own sets of etiquette.
  5. The Halyard – The halyard is the rope the flag is attached to, used for raising and lowering a flag from its pole. There are right and wrong ways to rig a halyard to the pole.
Proper Flag Display

Graphic depicting the correct way to rig a halyard to an outdoor flag pole.

Flag Etiquette

Flag Raised at Boston Medical Center to Honor Bombing Victims

00    On the one-year-anniversary of the 2013 Boston Marathon bombings, the Boston Medical Center held a ceremony to honor and remember victims of the tragedy. It was a tragedy that no one expected to endure during one of the nation’s most historic athletic events, The Boston Marathon.  On April 14, 2013, two bombs went off near the finish line of the 117th Annual Boston Marathon.  The explosions killed three an injured more than 260 others. Among those survivors is John Odom, who made a recovery that is nothing short of miraculous, due in major part to the team of heroes at the Boston Medical Center. On Monday, April 14th, 2014 a new flag was raised in remembrance, while Odom spoke during a ceremony of the care he received a year ago, which ultimately saved his life. Odom was at the finish line of the marathon last year to watch his daughter compete the race when the first of two blasts tore apart both of his legs.  When he arrived at BMC, he was pronounced dead.  Doctor Jeffrey Kalish and nurse Mallary Coleman sat alongside Odom and his wife Monday at the hospital that eventually saved his life. Video: Boston … Keep Reading...

Flag News

Foreign Exchange Student Host Gets Flag Tattoos as Mementos

00    Gadsden, Alabama pediatrician, Matt Lovato, has hosted numerous foreign exchange students and has received 11 countries flags as tattoos on his legs in remembrance. Some people choose to remember significant times of their lives with souvenirs and photographs; while this may be the case for Matt Lovato, he also chooses to remember the seasons he hosts foreign exchange students by inking their counties flags on his legs. Lovato, a pediatrician in Gadsden, Alabama, currently has the flags of 11 counties tattooed on his thighs.  It is a way he chooses to honor and remember the twenty-or-so foreign exchange students within the past 14 years.  The colorful flag tattoos are the flags of Belgium, Brazil, Czech Republic, Germany, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, Thailand, Turkey, and Ukraine, representing the home countries of the students he has hosted. Dr. Lovato first became interested in becoming a foreign exchange student host when he saw a newspaper ad seeking hosts while stationed at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona.  He signed up thinking it would be something he would enjoy, but not realizing it would become such a lasting legacy in his life (and on his legs)! Although Lovato has added numerous flag … Keep Reading...

Flag Fun

CVS Flags Spring Flag Spruce-Up – Free American Flag Giveaway!

00    Tell us what your favorite part of Spring is and be entered for a chance to win a FREE American Flag Giveaway! We are half-way through April and Spring is starting to blossom around the U.S.!!  Most of the country survived, what turned out to be, one of the coldest Winter’s on record.  Those harsh conditions may not have been all-too-kind on your proudly waving American flags.  It may be time to replace that worn or tattered flag and that’s why we are giving away FREE American flags to two (2) lucky recipients! Tell us what your favorite part of Spring is and you are entered for a chance to win a free 3 x 5 American Flag.  Simply fill out the form below: The two (2) entrants with the funniest/most cleaver responses will be chosen to receive a free American flag on Friday, April 25, 2014.  Limit one (1) response per person; contest submissions ends on Thursday, April 24, 2014. *Please Note: your email is required solely for contacting the winners of free American flags; not for solicitation purposes. Thank you for your entry and Happy Spring! Remember to “Like” CVSFlags on Facebook, follow us on Twitter via @CVSFlags, follow us on Pinterst and +1 … Keep Reading...

Flag Fun

Color Confusion: What Do the Colors of the American Flag Signify?

00    The colors “Red, White and Blue” trace back to the birth of the country and the Great Seal of the United States, rather than the birth of the flag. Red, white, and blue.  Everyone knows the colors, but have you ever wondered what the colors of the American flag actually represent?  Although the Marine Committee of the Second Continental Congress adopted a resolution that read the following, “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field representing a new constellation” nothing was ever said of the significance of the colors chosen. Many have confused the colors to signify something other than what our Founding Fathers intended.  Mike Buss, a flag expert with the American Legion believes the most obvious reason for the flag’s colors is that they were “simply taken from our mother country’s flag – the Union Jack of England.”  Others say that red represents the blood spilled by the patriots and those who fight to protect our country.  President Reagan put his own spin on the flag saying “The colors of our flag signify the qualities of the human spirit we Americans … Keep Reading...

Flag History

All-American Flag Act Draws Support from Students Young and Old

00    Many students – including those at Florida State University and Palm Bay Elementary – are vocalizing their support for the All-American Flag Act which would ban government use of foreign made U.S. flags. According to the All-American Flag Act proposed on June 13, 2013, “any flags of the United States acquired for use by the federal government to be entirely manufactured in the United States from articles, materials, or supplies entirely grown, produced, or manufactured in the United States.” This bill was introduced to the Senate by Ritch Workman (R-Florida) and has been at a stand-still in the process.  This is not the first time a bill of this nature has been proposed.  A similar idea was brought to the attention of the US House of Representatives in 2011.  It had the intention of stopping the federal government from buying and displaying American flags made outside of the US. This time seems to be garnering more support from the citizens in which the flag represents, including Palm Bay Elementary students in Palm Bay, FL and Florida State University broadcasters. Video: Palm Bay Elementary All-American Flag Act Event On March 16, students of the Community Problem Solving Team showed their … Keep Reading...

Flag News

Army Day

+20    The first Army Day was observed on May 1st, 1928. This was intended to stifle the Communist celebration of Workers’ Day-also on May 1st. However, in 1929 Army Day was changed from May 1st to April 6th- the anniversary of America’s entry of World War I. It was recognized as a national holiday in hopes to draw public attention to the country’s national defense. On April 4th, 1936, President Roosevelt proclaimed that Army Day is to be acknowledged by Congress and to be observed throughout the nation. Congress passed the resolution that recognizes April 6th as Army Day in March 1, 1937. “Our Army is a mighty arm of the tree of liberty. It is a living part of the American tradition, a tradition that goes back to Israel Putnam, who left his plow in a New England furrow to take up a gun and fight at Bunker Hill. In this tradition, American men of many ages have always left the pacific round of their usual occupations to fight in causes that were worth their lives-from Lexington to the Argonne.” –Franklin D. Roosevelt, Army Day Proclamation, 1942 Source:, Photo Source: Google Images

Flag History

Final Four Flag Contest – Win a FREE NCAA Flag!

00    Vote for your the team you think will win the NCAA Tournament and be entered for a chance to win a free NCAA flag of your choice! The Final Four of the 2014 NCAA Tournament is set and CVS Flags wants to know which team you will be cheering for to win it all.  Simply vote for your favorite team (or the team you think will win) and you are entered for a chance to win a free 3 x 5 NCAA Flag of your choice.  Who doesn’t want some free gear to show off your team pride all year long?! Simply fill out the form below: Two (2) winners will be randomly chosen to receive a free NCAA flag on Tuesday, April 8, 2014.  Simply fill out the form below and get your vote in now! Limit one (1) vote per person, one (1) vote per day; voting ends on Monday, April 7, 2014. *Please Note: your email is required solely for contacting the winners of free NCAA flags, not for solicitation purposes. Thank you for your vote and good luck! Remember to “Like” CVSFlags on Facebook, follow us on Twitter via @CVSFlags, follow us on Pinterst and +1 us on Google+ for more flag fun! … Keep Reading...

Flag Fun

April Fools’ Flag Spoof

00    U.K.’s Mail Online delivers April Fools’ Day spoof regarding Great Britain’s Union Jack flag April Fools’ Day (sometimes referred to as All Fools’ Day) is an informal holiday celebrated on April 1st.  Its origin is unknown but there have been references made in literature dating back to 1392 in which Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales refers to April 1st as March 32nd. Since then, April 1st has been recognized and celebrated as a day of practical jokes.  Hoax stories are often found in the press and media on this day, including that of which U.K.’s Daily Mail Online published on April 31, 2014. The headline read as follows: “Scot-free! Union Jack gets a Yes vote makeover: Secret Government papers reveal how flag will look if Scotland votes for independence”  The paper claimed that if Scotland votes for independence, Great Britain’s proudest national symbol would change to reflect that by ditching the cross of St Andrew, a white X on a blue background. Mail Online went on to state that, “The dramatic change to our national flag – the first since 1801, when St Patrick’s cross was added – was accidentally revealed in confidential papers carried by a Government adviser in … Keep Reading...

Flag Fun

Boy Scout Troop 119 Undertakes Flag Subscription Plan Project

00    The Galt, CA-based troop provides a large American flag in the yard of subscribers on six national holidays throughout the years, as well as flag etiquette instructions. Troop leader, Tiffani Jacobs, recently completed a flag etiquette class in preparation for a new project being undertaken by her Galt, California based Boy Scout Troop 119. The American Flag subscription plan intends to provide a large American flag in the yard of subscribers on six holidays throughout the year including: Presidents Day – February 22 Memorial Day – Last Monday in May Flag Day – June 14 Independence Day – July 4 Labor Day – First Monday in September Veterans Day – November 11 Funds generated from this program will go directly to the scouts for use on activities.  But this program isn’t solely about raising financial support.  Participants will also learn about the importance of the flag as well as necessary flag etiquette. Jacobs noted that it is especially important to acknowledge the holidays in which we place flags because “these are days that involve our armed forces and a day to take not that there are Americans that work very hard to keep America strong.  It’s a reminder … Keep Reading...

Flag Etiquette

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