Five Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Respecting the Flag

FlagsSeasons-2013-Forever-block4-BGv2Just a few weeks ago, USPS issued . These four stamps show the U.S. flag at full staff in each season of the year, but did you know there’s a lot more ceremony to respecting Old Glory than making sure she can withstand the elements? In preparation for Flag Day (which is this Friday), we did a little research.

The National Flag Code—the basis for a 1942 federal law that provides specific rules for the use and display of the flag—includes a long list of guidelines for how citizens should show their respect for the Stars and Stripes. Several of these rules are well-known to most, but some are more obscure. Here are five things you may not know about handling the flag:

  • The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
  • The flag should never be displayed with the union down, expect as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
  • The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.
  • No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform (except in the case of military personnel, firefighters, and police officers).
  • The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

Check out the United States Code for more information about the proper ways to display the Stars and Stripes in every season.

Each envelope in this set features a different, affixed A Flag For All Seasons (Forever®) stamp and an official First Day of Issue color postmark. Click the image for details.

A Flag for All Seasons Forever® stamps are currently and in Post Offices nationwide. You can also order them by calling ().

Four Flags Now Available in ATM Booklet of 18 Stamps

Beginning today, the popular Four Flags stamps are available as ATM booklets of 18 stamps. Each of the stamps in this quartet—which was first issued February 22, 2012—features a bright U.S. flag against a white background, accompanied by a single word: Freedom, Liberty, Equality, and Justice.

The black typeface recalls the look of Colonial-era printing and emphasizes the meaning these four terms held for the colonists who fought the American Revolution. Patriots and Founding Fathers often invoked these words as they struggled to envision a new, democratic nation and make their ideals for the new country a reality.

  • Liberty: “Give me liberty or give me death.” – Patrick Henry, 1775
  • Equality: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal…” – Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence, 1776
  • Freedom: “Posterity! You will never know how much it cost the present generation to preserve your freedom. I hope you will make good use of it.” – John Adams, 1777
  • Justice: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” – Constitution of the United States, 1787

Each envelope in this set features a different Four Flags (Forever®) stamp and an official First Day of Issue postmark (click for more information).

The current U.S. flag, which is depicted on these stamps, consists of 13 stripes and 50 stars. Congress passed legislation in 1818 stating that the number of stars on the flag should match the number of states in the Union. It also specified that new stars would be added to the flag on the first July 4th after a state’s admission. The current flag’s 50th star was added on July 4, 1960, after Hawai‘i became a state on August 21, 1959. The flag’s 13 stripes represent the 13 original states.

The Four Flags stamps are being issued as Forever® stamps. (Forever stamps are always equal in value to the current First-Class Mail one-ounce rate.)

If you wish to obtain the first-day-of-issue postmark by mail, purchase the new stamps and affix them to envelopes of your choice. Address the envelopes to yourself or others, and place them in larger envelopes addressed to:

Four Flags
1202 E First Street
Humble, TX  77338-9998

After applying the first-day-of-issue postmark, the Postal Service will return the envelopes through the mail. There is no charge for the postmark.

Flags of Our Nation Stamps Pay Homage to “America the Beautiful”

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!

Do you recognize these words? They are the opening lines of one of the best-known patriotic songs in the U.S., “America the Beautiful,” written by Katharine Lee Bates (1859–1929). They also inspired the look of the four Stars and Stripes stamps in the recently completed Flags of Our Nation series: “spacious skies” in 2008, “amber waves of grain” in 2009, “purple mountain majesties” in 2010, and “the fruited plain” in 2012.

Feel like wearing your patriotism in 2012? Today’s your lucky day because we’ve got two Size Medium Flags of Our Nation t-shirts (featuring the “fruited plain” Stars and Stripes on the front and the stamps from Set 6 on the back) to give away. All you have to do is answer the following question correctly:

The Flags of Our Nation series includes a total of sixty stamps: four depicting the Stars and Stripes, fifty featuring official state flags, and six others. What are the six others?

Send your answers to uspsstamps [at] gmail [dot] com. We will select two winners at random. Deadline for entries is midnight EDT on Wednesday, August 29. Good luck!

Four Flags Wave Again in a Week

June 1 is a shaping up to be busy day for stamps! A week from today, the Four Flags (Forever®) stamps will be reissued in booklets of 10 at the NAPEX stamp show in McLean, Virginia. The ceremony will begin at 11 a.m. We hope to see you there!

In the mean time, you can order these patriotic stamps in books of 20 or rolls of 100.