U.S. Flag Etiquette & Facts

Five Boro Flag, Banner & Sign is pleased to provide the following knowledge about the U.S. Flag. The rules and customs provided below are in accordance with the July 7, 1976 amendment to the United States Flag Code (Public Law 94-344, 94th Congress, S.J. Res. 49).

U.S.Flag Holidays
The following is a list of traditional flag flying holidays:

Holiday                                             Observed
New Year's Day                                 January 1
Inauguration Day                             January 20
Martin Luther King Jr. Day             3rd Monday In January
Lincoln's Birthday                           February 12
Washington's Birthday                    February 22
President's Day                                 3rd Monday in February
Mother's Day                                    2nd Sunday in May
Peace Officers Memorial Day        May 15
Armed Forces Day                           3rd Saturday in May
Memorial Day                                   Last Monday in May
Flag Day                                            June 14
Father's Day                                      3rd Sunday in June
Independence Day                           July 4
Korean War Veterans Day              July 27
Labor Day                                         1st Monday in September
Patriot's Day                                      September 11
Constitution Day                              September 17
Air Force Day                                   September 17
Columbus Day                                  2nd Monday in October
Navy Day                                          October 27
Election Day                                     1st Tuesday in November
Marine Corps Day                            November 10
Veteran's Day                                    November 11
Thanksgiving Day                            4th Thursday in November
Pearl Harbor Day                             December 7

U.S. Flag Etiquette

General Display
It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during hours of darkness.

The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.

The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.

The flag should be displayed daily, on or near the main administration building of every public institution...in or near every polling place on election days...during school days in or near every schoolhouse.

No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea...for personnel of the Navy...when the church pennant may be flown above the flag.

No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States at any place within the United States or any Territory or possession thereof: Provided, that nothing in this section shall make unlawful the continuance of the practice heretofore followed of displaying the flag of the United Nations in a position of superior prominence or honor, with that of the flag of the United States at the headquarters of the United Nations.

The Flag of the United States of America, when it is displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the right, the flags own right, and its staff should be in front of the other flag.

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 or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.

When flags of States, cities, or localities, or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the United States, the latter should always be at the peak. When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the United States or to the United States flag's right.

When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.

When the flag of the United States 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. When 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.

When 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.

When the flag is to be 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.

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

The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water or merchandise.

The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.

The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature. The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

Parades & Ceremonies
The flag, when carried in a procession or with another flag or flags, should be either on the marching right; that is, the flag's own right, or, if there is a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.

The flag should not be displayed on a float in a parade except from a staff (or as against a wall or in a window).

The flag should form a distinctive feature of the ceremony of unveiling a statue or monument. But it should never be used as the covering for the statue or monument. That no disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America, the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.

The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free. During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present except those in uniform should face the flag and stand at attention with the right hand over the heart. Those present in uniform should render the military salute. When not in uniform, men should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Aliens should stand at attention. The salute to the flag should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.

Folding the Flag
To fold the flag ceremoniously, first fold it lengthwise, bringing the striped half up over the blue field. Then repeat, with the blue field on the outside. Beginning at the lower right, make a series of triangular folds until the flag resembles a cocked hat with only the blue field visible.

Vehicles
The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or boat. When the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.

Corridors & Lobbies
When the flag is suspended across a corridor or lobby in a building with only one main entrance, it should be suspended vertically with the union of the flag to the observer's left upon entering. If the building has more than one main entrance, the flag should be suspended vertically near the center of the corridor or lobby with the union to the North when entrances are to the East or West-or to the East when entrances are to the North or South. If there are entrances in more than two directions, the union should be to the East.

Churches & Auditoriums
When used on a speaker's platform, the flag, is 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 the right of the audience.

Caskets
When the 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.

National Anthem
During the rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should render the military salute at the first note of the anthem and retain this position until the last note. When the flag is not displayed, those present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed there.

Pledge of Allegiance
The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men should remove their headdress with the right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.

Half-Staff
The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and than lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff. On the following days, the flag is to be flown at half-mast for the entire day:

December 7 - Pearl Harbor Day
May 15 - Peace Officers Memorial Day
July 27 - Korean War Veterans Day
Sept. 11 - Patriot's Day

By order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law.

In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States, the Governor may proclaim that the National flag be flown at half-staff.

Apparel & Drapery
The 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 a platform, and for decoration in general. No part of the 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.

Advertising
The 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.


WHEN TO DISPLAY THE FLAG
The flag should be displayed on all days when weather permits, especially on legal holidays or other special occasions. It is customary to display the flag from sunrise to sunset on buildings or on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, on special occasions it may be displayed at night, preferably lighted. In several places the flag flies day and night; among these are the Capitol
in Washington, D.C., and the Fort Henry National Monument in Baltimore, which was the inspiration for “The Star Spangled Banner” by Francis Scott Key. The flag should be displayed…

  • on or near the main administration building of every public institution
  • in or near polling places on election days
  • in or near schools when they are in session
  • A citizen may fly the flag on any day he wishes.

HOW TO FLY THE FLAG
The flag should be raised and lowered by hand. Never, raise the flag while it is furled; unfurl, then hoist quickly to the peak of the flagstaff. It should be lowered slowly and ceremoniously. The flag should never be allowed to touch anything beneath it, such as the ground or the floor.

The flying of the flag at half-staff, is a sign of mourning.When flown at half-staff, the flag should be first hoisted to the peak, then immediately lowered to the half-staff position. It should be raised to the peak again for a moment before it is lowered for the day. “Half-staff” is the point midway between the top and bottom of the flagstaff. On Memorial Day in May, the flag should fly at half-staff from sunrise until noon, and at full-staff from
noon until sunset.

At sea services by Navy chaplains, the church pennant may be flown above the flag.

No other flag may be flown above The United States flag except at the United Nations Headquarters. The UN flag may be placed above flags of all member nations. In the UN enclave, national flags of all members are flown with equal prominence.

When the flags of two or more nations are displayed together they should be flown from separate staffs of the same height, and the flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another in time of peace.

HOW TO DISPLAY THE FLAG
When carried in procession with another flag or flags, the Stars and Stripes should be at the right-front of the column, or when there is a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line. The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and floating free.When a number of flags are grouped and displayed from staffs, the flag of the United States should be in the center or at the highest point of the group. When displayed with another flag from crossed staffs, the flag of the United States should be on the right (the flag’sown right), and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.

If the flag is displayed from a staff projected from a window sill, balcony or front of a building, the union of the flag should go to the peak of the staff (unless the flag is to be displayed at half-staff).

When the flag is displayed in any manner other than being flown from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out. If 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 it should be suspended in the same way-that is, with the union to the left of the observer in the street.

When displayed over the middle of the street, the Stars and Stripes should be suspended vertical with the union to the north on an east-west street and to the east on a north-south street.

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

When used on a speaker’s platform the flag may be displayed flat, above and behind the speaker. If flown from a staff it should be on the speaker’s right; all other flags on the platform should be on his left.

When it is displayed on the pulpit or chancel in a church, the flag should be flown from a staff placed
on the clergyman’s right as he faces the congregation. All other flags on the pulpit or chancel should be on his left.

However, when the flag is displayed on the floor of a church or auditorium, on a level with the
audience, it is placed to the right of the audience.

When flags of states or cities, or pennants of societies, are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the United States, the latter should always be at the peak.When flown from adjacent staffs, the Stars and Stripes should be raised first and lowered last.

When used to cover a casket, the flag should be placed so 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. The casket should be carried foot-first from the hearse to the grave.

SALUTING THE FLAG
In saluting the flag those present in uniform should render the military salute. When not in uniform, men should remove the hat with the right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Women, and men without hats, should place the right hand over the heart. Aliens should stand at attention. All persons present should face the flag, stand at attention and salute on the following occasions:

1. When the flag is passing in a parade or review. The salute to the flag in the moving column is rendered at the moment the flag passes.

2. During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag.

3. When the National Anthem is played and the flag is displayed.

4. During the Pledge of Allegiance…I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

When the National Anthem is played and the flag is not displayed, all present should stand and face toward the music. Those in uniform should salute at the first note of the anthem, retaining this position until the last note. All others should stand at attention, men removing their hats. When the flag is displayed, all present should face the flag and salute.

HOW TO DISPOSE OF WORN FLAGS
Every precaution should be taken to prevent the flag from becoming soiled. When a flag is in such a condition, through wear or damage, that is no longer a fitting emblem for display, it should be destroyed privately in a dignified manner.

The flag should NEVER

1. Be tilted (dipped) even momentarily to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, organization or institutional flags may be tilted as the mark of honor.

2. Be displayed with the union down except as a signal of distress.

3. Be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and floating free.

4. Be displayed on a float, motor car or boat except from a staff.

5. Be allowed to touch the ground or floor, or brush against objects.

6. Have objects placed on, over it, or be used as a covering for a ceiling.

7. Have any mark, insignia, letter, work, figure, picture or drawing of any nature placed upon or attached to it.

8. Be used as a receptacle for carrying anything, or be used to cover a statue or monument. If used in connection with unveiling ceremonies, it should not serve as a covering of the object being unveiled.

9. Be used for advertising purposes or have advertising signs fastened to its staff or halyard.

10. Be embroidered on such articles as handkerchiefs or cushions, or be printed or otherwise impressed on boxes.

11. Be used as a costume or athletic uniform or part of one.

12. Be used as drapery of any sort whatsoever, never festooned, drawn back or up in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white and red-always arranged with the blue above, white in the middle, and red below-should be used for such purposes of decoration as covering a speaker’s desk or draping the front of a platform.