decorative flagsKelly green St. Patrick's Day flags. Passionate purple springtime flags. Patriotic summer flags waving in the wind.

No matter the occasion or the time of year, affixing colorful, decorative flags to the sturdy wooden flagpole in your front yard is just about one of the most American things you can do. It doesn't even have to be an American flag, either. You can turn any piece of fabric into a waving, resplendent symbol of pride -- the possibilities for exploration are quite vast.

Of course, the most patriotic thing you can do it fly Old Glory, the red, white and blue piece of inspiration that's become quite the symbol of liberty, freedom and, as the Constitution says, the pursuit of happiness. Unfortunately, the American flag is also perhaps the most misunderstand piece of patriotism we have today. There are a number of flag respect standards that get broken every day, and sometimes they're broken in the strangest ways. For example...

Flag-emblazoned clothing is considered distasteful.

It's a uniquely American thing to decorate anything with flag designs, whether they're denim motorcycle jackets, electric guitars or even sprawling city advertising billboards. We do it for other cultures' flags too, not just our own -- this is the land of opportunity, after all. There's nothing wrong with being celebratory with your nation's colors, but wrapping a model in the flag just to sell jeans? That's taking it a bit too far, according to the respect standards.

Flagpole positions are meant to be taken seriously.

If you have any kind of decorative flags you want to use to bring a little local color to your front yard, at least fly them correctly. When a flag's at the top of the pole, it's meant to be flown proudly. When it's at half staff, it should be directly in the middle of the pole, and when you lower it, the flag should never touch the ground. Again, it's a respect thing. Though these are the practices for Old Glory, it wouldn't help to practice them with your seasonal flags, too.

Proper disposal of flags is just a matter of reverence.

It's important to note that while the U.S. Flag Code is, in fact, a federal law, there is no penalty for not complying with it. That's the great thing about living in America -- freedom of speech. But burning an old, tattered flag in your backyard isn't the most graceful way of disposing of it. Look for proper flag disposal bins around your community, especially in public libraries and court houses.

For more information, find a local decorative flags shop or look at the myriad designs and shapes you can buy from online flag stores.