American Flag Etiquette

The American Flag has its own code that describes how it should and should not be used. Here are guidelines on how to properly display and care of your American flag.

FLAG DOs

Universal Custom of Displaying the flag

  • The American flag should be flown on stationary flagstaffs, in an open area, on buildings or homes from sun-up to sun-down.
  • If it is to be displayed for 24-hours then proper lighting is need to illuminate the flag during dark hours.
  • Flags should be taken down during harsh weather unless what you have is an all-weather flag.
  • The American flag is saluted while being raised and lowered. The flag should be unsnapped from the halyard before the salute is lowered.
  • When flown with other flags of states and communities:
    • The American should be raised first and lowered last.
    • Other flags should not be bigger, however they can be smaller.
    • No flag should be flown above it.

Honoring the flag during the National Anthem and the Pledge of Allegiance

Citizens should stand at attention and face the flag while officers should render a proper salute.

2flagsWith Other Flags on Same Staff
American Flag should be at peak.

Marchers Carrying Flag
American Flag should be positioned to marcher’s right.

With Other Nations Flags
American Flag should be positioned on its (own) right.

Platform
American Flag should be displayed behind the speaker and on the speaker’s right.

Saluting the flag

Officers serving the armed forces in uniform should give a military salute.
Officers serving the armed forces not in uniform and veterans may also give a military salute.
Other individuals present should stand at attention, remove their hats with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder with the hand positioned over the heart.

Used in Mourning

The American flag should be flown at half staff, half-way of the flag pole.
For government leaders, the flag is flown at half staff on presidential or local government order.
When used as covering for a casket, the American flag should be positioned with union at the head and over the left shoulder.
On Memorial Day, the American flag is flown at half staff until noon and then flown at full staff from noon until sunset.

Flag DON’TS

  • Don’t ever let the flag touch the ground.
  • Don’t use the flag for advertising purposes.
  • Don’t use it as a covering, decoration, or clothing.
  • Don’t mark the flag.
  • Don’t fly it upside down unless you’re using it as a distress signal.
  • Don’t allow it to be carried flat.
  • Don’t use it to carry things.
  • Don’t tie it, always let it fall free.
  • Don’t fold the flag in an uncustomary manner.

Displaying Outdoors

When flying from a staff on a balcony, building or window the union should be at the peak.
When flying with flag of states or societies of the same height, the American flag should always be positioned to its own right.
When displayed with other colors, the American flag should always be flown above the other flags except for the church pennant during church services conducted by Naval chaplain on a Navy ship.
When flying over a street, it should be vertical with the union to the north.

Displaying Indoors

When on stage, the American flag should be positioned to the right of the speaker with the other flags to the left.
The American flag should be displayed horizontally or vertically against the wall with the flag’s union at the top.
When displayed with another flag and the staffs are crossed, the American flag should be positioned on its own right, in front of the other flag.

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