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Flag Etiquette


The Flag Code, which formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which we give respect to the flag, also contains specific instructions on how the flag is not to be used. They are:

When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.

The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.

When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.

Note: Most Veterans Groups regularly conduct a dignified flag burning ceremony, often on Flag Day, June 14th. Contact your local VFW, DAV, VVA or  American Legion and inquire about the availability of this service.


Displaying the Flag Outdoors

When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a window, balcony, or a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff.

When it is displayed from the same flagpole with another flag - of a state, community, society or Scout unit - the flag of the United States must always be at the top except that the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for Navy personnel when conducted by a Naval chaplain on a ship at sea.

When the flag is displayed over a street, it should be hung vertically, with the union to the north or east. If the flag is suspended over a sidewalk, the flag's union should be farthest from the building.

When flown with flags of states, communities, or societies on separate flag poles which are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor - to its own right.
..The other flags may be smaller but none may be larger.
..No other flag ever should be placed above it.
..The flag of the United States is always the first flag raised and the last to be lowered.

When flown with the national banner of other countries, each flag must be displayed from a separate pole of the same height. Each flag should be the same size. They should be raised and lowered simultaneously. The flag of one nation may not be displayed above that of another nation.

Raising and Lowering the Flag

The flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously. Ordinarily it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night.
The flag of the United States of America is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered. The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of music, whichever is the longest.

Displaying the Flag Indoors

When on display, the flag is accorded the place of honor, always positioned to its own right. Place it to the right of the speaker or staging area or sanctuary. Other flags should be to the left.

The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of states, localities, or societies are grouped for display.

When one flag is used with the flag of the United States of America and the staffs are crossed, the flag of the United States is placed on its own right with its staff in front of the other flag.

When displaying the flag against a wall, vertically or horizontally, the flag's union (stars) should be at the top, to the flag's own right, and to the observer's left.

Parading and Saluting the Flag

When carried in a procession, the flag should be to the right of the marchers. When other flags are carried, the flag of the United States may be centered in front of the others or carried to their right. When the flag passes in a procession, or when it is hoisted or lowered, all should face the flag and salute.

The Salute
To salute, all persons come to attention. Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute. Citizens not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over the heart and men with head cover should remove it and hold it to left shoulder, hand over the heart. Members of organizations in formation salute upon command of the person in charge.

The Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem

The pledge of allegiance should be rendered by standing at attention, facing the flag, and saluting.
When the national anthem is played or sung, citizens should stand at attention and salute at the first note and hold the salute through the last note. The salute is directed to the flag, if displayed, otherwise to the music.

The Flag in Mourning

To place the flag at half staff, hoist it to the peak for an instant and lower it to a position half way between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag is to be raised again to the peak for a moment before it is lowered. On Memorial Day the flag is displayed at half staff until noon and at full staff from noon to sunset.

The flag is to be flown at half staff in mourning for designated, principal government leaders and upon presidential or gubernatorial order.

When used to cover a casket, the flag should be placed with the union at the head and over the left shoulder. It should not be lowered into the grave.

(1) When displayed either horizontally or vertically on a wall or in a window the blue field should be uppermost and to the flags own right, that is,
to the observer's left. See figure 1.
Figure 1

When other flags are flown on the same halyard (rope),
the national flag must be at the highest peak. See figure 2
Figure 2

When flags are flown on adjacent staffs,
the national flag should be hoisted first and lowered last.
No other flag should be flown above or to the right of the national flag
except as shown in figure 5. See figure 3.
Figure 3

The national flag, when displayed on crossed staffs, should be on the flags right
and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag. See figure 4.
Figure 4

The national flag should be at the center and highest peak
when displayed with a group of flags. See figure 5.

When flags of other nations are displayed together,
they must be displayed on separate staffs and at equal heights.
The United States flag must be displayed on its right. See figure 6.
Figure 6

Display Your Flag Proudly

The flag of the United States should be flown every day when weather permits. If made of weather resistant material it can be flown around the clock in any weather if properly illuminated.

It should be flown especially on the following days:
New Years Day, January 1
Inauguration Day, January 20
Lincolns Birthday, February 12
Washingtons Birthday, February 22
Presidents Day, third Monday in February
Easter Sunday, (variable)
Mothers Day, second Sunday in May
Armed Forces Day, third Sunday in May
Memorial Day, May 30
Observed Memorial Day, last Monday in May
Flag Day, June 14
Fathers Day, third Sunday in June
Independence Day, July 4
Labor Day, first Monday in September
Constitution Day, September 17
Columbus Day, October 12
Discoverers Day, second Monday in October
Navy Day, October 27
Marine Corps Birthday, November 10
Veterans Day, November 11
Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November
Christmas Day, December 25

And such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States and on State holidays.