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U.S. Flag Resources & Service Ideas

Celebrating Veterans While Honoring Our Flag

We are encouraging all 4-H clubs to complete a community service project related to a flag holiday. This page is intended to be a resource for you - our 4-H volunteer professional - in doing this work. Remember to visit our community service ideas page if you are looking for other community service project ideas for your club.

Upon completion of your flag community service project, we would love for you to share your club's experience with us by completing this survey! This survey will help us gather information about the community service activity being conducted in West Virginia 4-H and help us better showcase the work you and your members do to make your local communities a better place. In addition, we will select community service projects submitted through this survey link to be showcased statewide throughout the 4-H year!

In order to complete this survey, you will need the following information:

  • Name of 4-H Club
  • County
  • Name of Service Project
  • Service Project Start & End Date
  • Service Project Location
  • Brief Service Project Description
  • Brief Description of Individuals/Organization that Benefited from the Service Project
  • Partnering Organization Names (if applicable)
  • Total Number of 4-H Youth & Adult Participants
  • Total Number of 4-H Youth & Adult Service Hours (10 members x 1 hour = 10 service hours)
  • Overall Impact Statement (ex. 100 flags were distributed or 25 old flags were properly retired)
  • Photo of Service Activity (if applicable)
Share Your Club's Community Service Project Story with Us Here!

U.S. Flag Resources & Community Service Ideas

Avalon Arrows 4-H Club in Greenbrier County

In the United States, we celebrate four holidays involving the U.S. flag, including Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day and Veterans Day. These holidays provide us with an opportunity to extend gratitude and honor those who serve or who have served in the U.S. military. The purpose of this page is to provide you with fun facts around each of these holidays, give you more information about U.S. flag etiquette, provide you with community service ideas, including organizations you can partner with, and activities you can do with your club members to use each holiday as a learning experience.

Flag Holiday Facts

Build Your Own Background Knowledge or Share with Youth

Memorial Day
  • Memorial Day was originally called Decoration Day.
  • Memorial Day is a day for remembrance of those who have died in service to our county.
  • Memorial Day was first widely observed on May 30, 1868 to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers.
  • New York was the first state to designate Memorial Day as a legal holiday in 1873.
  • Memorial Day was declared a national holiday when Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act in 1971.
  • Memorial Day is celebrated on the last Monday of May.
  • Each year, a small flag is placed on each grave at Arlington National Cemetery to commemorate Memorial Day.
Flag Day
  • Flag Day is observed each year on the second Sunday in June.
  • President Woodrow Wilson declared June 14th as National Flag day in 1916.
  • In 1949, President Truman signed an Act of Congress recognizing the holiday of Flag Day.
  • Flag Day originated in Waubeka, Ozaukee County, Wisconsin.
Independence Day
  • The tradition of setting off fireworks on the 4th of July began in Philadelphia in 1777 during the first organized celebration of Independence Day.
  • Congress made July 4th a federal holiday in 1870.
  • The most common symbol of Independence Day is the American flag.
  • John Adams believed that July 2nd was the correct date to celebrate the birth of American independence.
  • Three presidents who signed the Declaration of Independence died on July 4th. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on July 4, 1826 – the 50th anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence. James Monroe died five years later on July 4, 1831.
  • John Hancock was the first person to sign the Declaration of Independence and has the largest signature on the Declaration of Independence.
  • Massachusetts became the first state to make the 4th of July an official state holiday in 1781.
  • Thomas Jefferson was the main author of the Declaration of Independence.
  • The Liberty Bell located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, rings 13 times every Independence Day to honor the 13 original states.
Veterans Day
  • Veterans Day is a day to honor “all of those who have served the country in war or peace – dead or alive – although it’s largely intended to thank living veterans for their sacrifices.”
  • Veterans Day was first celebrated on November 11, 1918.
  • Veterans Day was originally called “Armistice Day.”
  • In 1954, the name was changed from “Armistice Day” to “Veterans Day” to honor American veterans of all wars.
  • In 1968, Congress passed a law to celebrate all federal holidays on a Monday.
  • On September 20, 1975, President Gerald Ford signed the Public Law 94-97 which returned the celebration of Veterans Day to November 11.
  • Veterans Day is celebrated in other countries (like Canada, Australia and Great Britain) on November 11.

How to: United States Flag Etiquette

Instill and encourage appropriate reverence

Displaying the U.S. Flag
Hancock County 4-H'ers Alaina Norton, Audrey Malcomb, MacKenzie Moore, and Daniel Mayfield lower flag at camp
  • The U.S. flag stands for our nation and the shared history, pride, principles and commitment of its people. When we properly display this powerful symbol, we signal our respect for everything it represents.
  • The flag shouldn't be flown in inclement weather, unless it’s an all-weather flag.
  • Flags displayed at night should be properly illuminated.
  • In a time of national mourning, hang the flag at half-mast.
  • The flag can be flown every day, but it is often flown to show patriotism on these observances:
    • New Year's Day
    • Inauguration Day
    • Martin Luther King Jr.'s Birthday
    • Lincoln's Birthday
    • Washington's Birthday (Presidents Day)
    • National Vietnam War Veterans Day
    • Easter Sunday
    • Armed Forces Day
    • Memorial Day
    • Flag Day
    • Independence Day
    • National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day
    • Labor Day
    • Constitution Day
    • Columbus Day
    • Navy Day
    • Veterans Day
    • Thanksgiving Day
    • Christmas Day
  • When displaying the flag…
    • From your porch
      • Place the union (blue section) at the peak of the staff.
    • Against a wall or on a window
      • Place the union (blue section) at the top left corner.
    • On your vehicle
      • Clamp the staff to the right front fender.
    • With another flag
      • Place the U.S. flag to your left when crossed.
Folding the U.S. Flag
Hancock County volunteer Lt. Colonel Margaret Bahnsen, USA retired teaches cloverbuds how to properly fold the U.S. flag at Hancock County Cloverbud Day Camp Follow the steps below to properly fold the U.S. flag or watch How to Fold the American Flag.
  1. Fold the lower striped section of the flag over the blue field.
  2. Fold over the folded bottom edge to meet the top edge.
  3. Begin a triangular fold by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to the top edge.
  4. Turn the other point inward, parallel with the top edge to form a second triangle.
  5. Continue until the final folds ensure that only the Union (the blue portion with white stars) is showing and the open edges are folded in.
  • You should always fold the flag after it is lowered due to sunset or severe weather.
Flag Disposal
When to Dispose of an American Flag
According to U.S. Flag Code 4 USC Ch. 1, "The flag, when it is in such condition that it is not longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning." Below are five ways you can retire a U.S. flag that align with the U.S. Flag Code.
Burning a Flag 
Steps to Holding a Flag Burning Ceremony
  1. Check local burning laws in your area to ensure you are allowed to build a fire.
  2. Note the material of your flag. If your flag is made of nylon or polyester, choose a different disposal method as these materials create harmful gases when openly burned.
  3. Fold the whole flag.
  4. Start a fire.
  5. Place the flag in the fire (do not allow it to touch the ground).
  6. Salute the flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance and pause for a moment of silence as the flag begins to burn.
  7. Bury the ashes.
Community Disposal Boxes for Flags
  • Drop it off in a flag disposal box within your local community.
  • These are usually found at government offices, police stations, Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) posts or American Legions.
Burying a Flag
  1. Fold the whole flag.
  2. Place in wooden box.
  3. Bury the box.
  4. Pause for a moment of silence.
Shredding Techniques
  1. Use scissors to cut apart each of the 13 white and red stripes.
  2. Leave the blue star-spangled field in one piece.
  3. Then, it can be placed in a box for burial or in a fire for burning.
Recycling a Flag
  • Some flag companies will accept old flags and use the material to make new ones
Who Can Dispose of a Flag?

Anyone can hold a flag disposal ceremony as long as it is done in a respectful and dignified way.

Community Service Ideas to Honor Veterans

Extend Gratitude to Those Who Died While Serving in the U.S. Military

Moutaineer Veterans' Garden of Honor in Rainelle, WV
  • Attend memorial services within your community.
  • Contact your local veterans' cemetery and set flowers or decorations on the graves that do not have anything on them.
  • Volunteer in a local parade.
  • Honor troops at home.
  • Put together a care package.
  • Participate in a virtual 5K.
  • Share the meaning of Memorial Day.
    • Learn more about Memorial Day and how it differs from other events honoring veterans.
    • Use your social media profiles and online communities to explain the meaning and honor those veterans who have lost their lives in service to the country.
  • Observe the National Moment of Remembrance.
  • Create a flag wall in honor of those who lost their lives in action.
  • Donate to a worthy cause.
  • Visit a national monument, war memorial or local monuments/memorials in your community.

Honoring Those Who Serve or Who Have Served in the U.S. Military

Kymberlyn Morgan, member of Organ Cave 4-H Helpers Club in Greenbrier County, posing with her father Derrick Morgan, Us Army Reserves E6 Staff Sergeant Platoon Sergeant
  • Collect veterans' stories.
  • Hold a candlelight vigil.
  • Donate monetarily.
  • Send cards or e-cards.
  • Shop in a veteran's place of business.
  • Wear a red poppy to show support of veterans and active duty service members.
    • The American Legion Auxiliary distributes red crepe paper poppies on Memorial Day and Veterans Day nationwide.
    • The poppies are all handmade by veterans as part of their therapeutic rehabilitation, and donations received in exchange for the flowers go directly to assist disabled and hospitalized veterans in our communities.

Organizations to Collaborate With

  • National Flag Foundation
    • This organization is a great resource if you would like to help your club learn more about the American Flag, including how to care for the flag (i.e. etiquette, flag disposal, displaying and folding the flag).
  • West Virginia Department of the American Legion
    • If your club is looking for a way to give back to your community through service, then this organization would be a great partner. They are always looking for help to place flags on graves at cemeteries during days of remembrance and military holidays. 
    • They also can provide flag etiquette and flag disposal ceremonies for your members.
    • Find a West Virginia American Legion group near you or call 304-343-7591.
  • Vietnam Veterans of America
    • This organization deploys volunteer veterans into their communities who could visit your club to educate and help your members learn more about responsibility, good judgment and commitment to their families, communities and each other.
    • They may sponsor the Mobile Wall in your local community as a memorial for all West Virginia veterans who were killed in action, held as prisoners of war, and those still missing in action during the Vietnam War.
      • If this event is held in your community, you could encourage your 4-H members to remember and pay homage to those who gave their all as they visited.
    • You also could partner with this organization to offer flag etiquette instruction to your club members.
    • Find a chapter of local Vietnam Veterans of America near you.
  • West Virginia Veterans of Foreign Wars
  • Daughters of the American Revolution
    • You can contact their National Society if your club members would like to:
      • Display flags on graves in their local community.
      • Better understand the flag code.
      • Celebrate the Constitution with the Ringing of the Bells.
      • Become a part of the Junior American Citizen program.
  • Reserves Officers' Junior Training Corps for Branches in Military
    • This organization is found in most high schools in West Virginia, so it would be a great resource for your community club.
    • You can contact your local Board of Education for direct contact information or your local recruiting center associated with any branch of the military – Marines, Army, Air Force, etc.
    • They can offer the following opportunities for your club members:
      • Flag etiquette, patriotism, service to our country, honoring veterans and many other service activities.
  • Local branches of military – Army, Army Reserves, Marines Corps, Navy.

Activities for Clubs

Mountain Movers 4-H Club in Greenbrier County hold annual dinner in Renick, WV to honor veterns on Veterans Day
  • Take a virtual tour of the White House.
  • Create a sidewalk mural honoring the U.S. flag or military members.
  • Send a care package to active military members.
  • Visit a VA Hospital, nursing home or retirement home.
  • Organize a Veterans Day dinner to serve in your local community.
  • Hang a U.S. flag in a location that does not have one. Be sure to fly it correctly!
  • Invite a local veteran to speak at your club meeting.
  • Honor veterans in your school.