Flag Etiquette

Proper Etiquette

By Silence Dogood

The U.S. Flag Code lays out the proper etiquette for the use and display of the flag of the United States. There are no penalties or punishments for violating the Flag Code, except for residents of Washington D.C. If this where not the case a great many people and companies would be subject to the resulting penalties. The Flag Code is merely a general guide lines, and we have gathered a quick reference for the proper way to display the flag.

The flag should be displayed sunup to sundown. If it is to be displayed at night it should be properly illuminated. There are several places that by Presidential or Congressional decree as well as custom the flag is flown continuously. Also the flag should not be displayed in bad weather unless it is an All Weather Flag.

Position to Display the United States Flag

Proper display of the flag in a paradeIn a procession or a parade the U.S. flag should be placed on its own right, or in the front of the procession.

Proper display of the flag on a parade floatOn a parade float or any other vehicle the U.S. flag should be displayed on a staff attached to the vehicle.

 Proper display of2 flags on staffsWhen two staffs are crossed the U.S. flag should be displayed on the right and in front of the other flag.
 Proper display of grouped flagsIn a group of staffs the U.S. flag should be at the top and center of the group.
Proper display of multiple flags on the same poleThe U.S. flag should be the top flag when multiple flags are flown from the same staff.
Proper displlay of multiple flags  next to  each otherWhen flags are displayed on adjacent staffs the U.S. flag should be raised first and lowered last with no other flags to it’s right.

When flags of other nations are displayed with the U.S. flag they should all be flown at the same height and of about the same size. No other flag should be flown to the right or above the U.S. flag.
(An exception is made for the U.N. Headquarters in New York city.

 Proper displlay of the flagfrom a buildingWhen the U.S. flag is displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle from the window sill, balcony, or front of a building, the union of the flag should be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half-staff.

Proper display of the flag over a sidewalkWhen the flag is suspended over a sidewalk from a rope extending from a house to a pole at the edge of the sidewalk, the flag should be hoisted out, union first, from the building.

 Proper display of the flag horizontally and verticallyWhen displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left. When displayed in a window, the flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.

Proper display of the flag over a streetWhen the U.S. flag is displayed over the middle of the street, it should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street or to the east in a north and south street.

Proper display of the  flag on a platformWhen used on a speaker’s platform, the U.S. flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman’s or speaker’s right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker or to the right of the audience.

 Proper display of the flag over a casketWhen the U.S. flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.


Respect for the Flag of the United States of America

The U.S. flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

The U.S. flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise. Nor should it be dipped for and reason. This tradition started after the 1908 Olympics when Martin Sheridan was reported to say, “This flag dips to no earthly king” after the flag bearer did not dip the flag to King Edward VII during the opening ceremonies.

The U.S. flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.

The U.S. flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.

The U.S. flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.

No part of the U.S. flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.