How To Display The American Flag - Rules and Etiquette To Follow

How to Display The American Flag – Rules and Etiquette to Follow

The American flag has changed multiple times since June 14, 1777. While the design has always included stars and stripes, the layout, the number of stars and other elements have changed—the present 13-stripe and 50-star design date from 1960. However, if you are uninformed about rules regarding the American flag, your gesture of patriotism might rapidly become (unknowingly) disrespectful. As a national emblem, there are crucial American flag regulations to follow. How to correctly hoist a flag and fly it at half-staff to show respect for the flag and country. Read on to know more…

When Did Flag Displaying Rules Fall Into Place?

Surprisingly late in the history of the United States, on Flag Day in 1923, a coalition of groups led by the American Legion issued the National Flag Code as recommended guidelines for flag display. These laws were enacted into law during World War II and constitute the majority of what is currently known as the United States Flag Code.

These laws apply to a wide variety of particular circumstances. Still, they are all guided by the same fundamental principle: the flag is one of the most visible and significant symbols of our country, and as such, one should treat it with respect.

When Should The American Flag be Displayed?

According to the United States Flag Code, it is “common practice” to fly the American flag over buildings from sunrise to sunset.  On the other hand, American flags may be flown 24 hours a day if they are “properly” lighted during the nighttime hours.

As per the American flag rules and laws, one should fly it on all days. It is especially crucial on select holidays, such as New Year’s Day, Mother’s Day, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and several other major United States holidays.

Important Flag Flying Days

The flag may be exhibited on any day; however, one should fly it most prominently on the following days:

  • New Year’s Day, January 1
  • Inauguration Day, January 20
  • Martin Luther King Jr. Day, third Monday in January
  • Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12
  • Washington’s Birthday, third Monday in February
  • Easter Sunday
  • Mother’s Day, the second Sunday in May
  • Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May
  • Memorial Day (half-staff until noon), Last Monday in May
  • Flag Day, June 14
  • Independence Day, July 4
  • Labor Day, first Monday in September
  • Constitution Day, September 17
  • Columbus Day, the second Monday in October
  • Navy Day, October 27
  • Veterans Day, November 11
  • Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday in November
  • Christmas Day, December 25
  • Any other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States; the birthdays of States; and on State holidays

How to Display American Flag Properly?

As representing the country and its people, the flag should be regarded with reverence and appreciated while displayed. To ensure that the flag is treated with honor, the following American flag etiquette is advised. American flag flying guidelines for various places are:

1. On a pole with another flag

When the American flag is on the same pole as an organization, state, or city flag, the U.S. flag is always at the top of the pole, in a position of honor.


2. At half-staff or half-mast

“Half-staff” refers to half the distance between the top and bottom of a flagpole. If flying a single flag, the US flag’s center-point should be aligned with the flagpole’s center-point.


3. Against a wall or in a window

When the union or blue field is exhibited horizontally or vertically, it should be to the observer’s left, as indicated.


4. With the flags of other nations

Each flag should be the same in size and proportionate in height. It is improper to fly one country’s flag higher than another.


5. From a staff adjacent to others

One should display the American flag in an honorable position at the far left of the most common viewing point.


6. In a group of flags

The US flag should be at the center and the highest point of a collection of flags displayed on the flagstaff.


7. Suspended or hanging over the street

When not exhibited on staff, the American flag should be displayed flat or hanging to allow the folds to fall freely. When displaying the flag over a street, position it with the union side facing north on an east-west street or with the union side facing east on a north-south street.


8. Crossed staffs with another flag

When exhibited beside another flag on crossed staffs against a wall, the flag should be on the right, the flag’s own right (viewer’s left), and its staff should be in front of the other flag’s staff.


9. In an auditorium or church setting

When the US flag is hoisted on a staff on a platform or stage with a speaker, one should display the flag to the speaker’s right. From the most common vantage position, one should display additional flag sets to the right of the American flag. If hanging vertically or exhibited flat, it should be positioned above and behind the speaker, with extra flags to the right of the most common viewing point.


Do’s to Follow When Displaying The Flag

Whether the flag is displayed on a wall, in the yard, or on a vehicle, specific standards for treating the American flag respectfully.

  • Display the American flag on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in open places from sunrise to sunset, seven days a week. When a patriotic effect is desired, one can display the flag 24 hours a day if it is properly illuminated during the hours of darkness. If a patriotic effect is not desired, one should not display the flag at all.
  • When the United States Flag is displayed on a single staff or lanyard, it should be displayed above all other flags in the group.
  • Whenever a row of flags is presented to the observer, the United States flag is displayed to the observer’s left. The flags of other countries are flown at the same height as the American flag. State and local flags have traditionally been flown at a lower altitude.
  • It is customary for the US Flag to be displayed to the observer’s left during a marching ceremony or parade when used in conjunction with other flags.
  • It is permissible to fly the flag at half-staff on certain days of the week. On Memorial Day, the flag is flown at half-staff until noon, after which it is raised.
  • When the flag is flown at half-staff, it should be lifted momentarily to the peak and then lowered to the half-staff position again. It is necessary to raise the flag to its highest point one more before lowering it for the day. It is customary to lower a flag halfway between the top and bottom of its staff, referred to as “half-staff.”
  • It is recommended that the flag be flown vertically over the center of the street, with the union (blue field of stars) facing north in an east-west street or east in a north-south street when positioned over the street’s center.
  • When saluting the flag, all individuals in uniform (military, police, firefighter, and so on) should perform the military salute, regardless of their rank. Individuals from the armed forces and veterans who are in attendance but are not dressed in uniform are permitted to perform the military salute.
  • If a flag is exhibited on a podium, it should be positioned either right or in the event’s staging area. one should place additional flags to the left of the main flag.
  • When the flag is set horizontally or vertically against a wall (or another flat surface), the union (blue star field) should be at the top and to the flag’s right or the observer’s left if the flag is placed vertically against a wall.
  • The union or blue field should be presented to the observer’s left when displayed in a window, the same as when displayed on a screen.
  • A vehicle carrying the flag must have the staff securely fastened to the chassis or mounted to the right fender when the flag is displayed.
  • It is recommended that the flag be used to drape a casket be positioned so that the union is at the top of the flag and over the left shoulder. Flags should not be lowered into graves or permitted to touch the earth during a funeral service.

Mistakes to Avoid With The American Flag

Our right to show our country’s flag is unassailable, yet there are more restrictions than you may think. The flag has a lot of significance for many individuals. No one wants their patriotic gesture to be mistaken for a show of contempt. This is what you need to keep in mind.

  • Do not dip the US Flag in honor of any individual, flag, or vessel.
  • Allow no part of the flag to touch the ground.
  • Unless there is an emergency, do not fly the flag upside down.
  • Carry the flag upright and avoid carrying anything in it.
  • Avoid wearing the flag as apparel.
  • Avoid storing the flag in an area where it can become filthy.
  • Avoid using it as a cover.
  • Avoid fastening or tying it back. Allow it to fall freely at all times.
  • Make no mark on the flag with a pen or anything else.
  • Do not use the flag as a decorative item. Utilize bunting with blue at the top, followed by white and red.

What is The Right Way to Dispose of The American Flag

On Flag Day, you may discover that your flag has gotten torn and ragged. However, there is no need to be concerned about how to dispose of it properly! The most critical point to remember is that you should not throw your flag in the garbage.

  1. Burning the flag: The first technique to dispose of an American flag is to burn it at home or somewhere. Note the flag’s material and the local fire rules before burning it. Some materials emit poisons when burned openly. Begin a flag-burning ceremony by folding the flag in half. Set up a fire big enough to burn the flag and respectfully place it in the fire. The flag should never touch the ground. Salute the flag, say the Pledge of Allegiance, then pause for a moment of silence as it burns. The flag should be wholly incinerated, leaving only ashes. Then bury the ashes.
  2. Community Disposal Box: A second option for removing an American flag is to place it in a flag disposal box. Flag disposal boxes are located in many local government offices and police stations. Groups such as the American Legion, the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Girl Scouts, and the Boy Scouts collect and retire a disposed of flag throughout the year.
  3. Burying a flag: Although the United States Code specifies that one should burn flags, many also dispose of them through burial. If this is the way you pick, place the folded flag in a dignified wooden box. After burying the flag box in the earth, pause for a minute of silence.
  4. Recycling a flag: Recyclable materials can be used to dispose of a flag as a final alternative. Several flag firms will accept old flags and repurpose the fabric to create new flags.

When celebrating a holiday or other special occasion, flying the American flag can be entertaining and patriotic. When it comes to displaying a flag correctly, there are some guidelines to follow. Therefore, you must act like an informed citizen. Thus, make sure that you keep the considerations mentioned above in mind when flying the flag.

Also Read:

US Independence Day
US National Flag Day
Best Decoration Ideas of Patriotic 4th Of July

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Ruchelle has a vast experience working with clients in hospitality, health and wellness, entertainment, real estate, and retail. She aims to utilise her learnings to deliver quality content which will in turn help drive sales and customer engagement.