Flag Etiquette

Flag Etiquette

Regardless of whether it's crafted from nylon, polyester, or simple cotton, the American Flag transcends mere fabric and thread. It embodies the collective essence of each of us—our history, our present, and our future. Infused within its stars and stripes are profound sacrifices and a deep-seated national pride, symbolizing hope, opportunity, and freedom. The flag is far from an inanimate object; it unfurls with a vibrant life force capable of uniting an entire nation.

As every individual has the privilege to possess and exhibit the American flag, it's crucial to handle it with reverence. In response to this sentiment, representatives from 68 national organizations, including the Army and Navy, collaborated to establish the United States Flag Code. Enacted into law approximately a year following the Pearl Harbor attack, this code consolidates guidelines for the proper handling, display, and maintenance of the American flag. Additionally, it delineates behaviors deemed inappropriate and disrespectful. Adhering to these regulations demonstrates your esteem and pride for both the flag and our nation.

What are the rules or codes for displaying an American Flag?

Numerous guidelines dictate the respectful presentation of The United States Flag. It's essential to thoroughly review all sections of the flag code before displaying your flag. Here are some key display codes to keep in mind:

  1. The United States flag should never be flown with the union down, except as a distress signal or in emergency situations.
  2. The American flag should never come into contact with the ground, floor, water, or any other surface below it.
  3. The flag should never be carried horizontally or flat; it should always be held aloft and free.
  4. The flag should not be lowered or dipped to any individual, statue, or object.

These listed display guidelines are not exhaustive; there are additional codes governing the proper display of the American flag. It's important to familiarize yourself with all relevant codes to ensure proper respect for the flag. You can find them here on

What are three things one should never do out of respect to the flag?

  1. Using the American flag as clothing, bedding, or drapery is inappropriate. Instead, for decorative purposes, one should utilize bunting, arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below.
  2. The American flag should never be employed for advertising endeavors. Additionally, it should never appear on items such as cushions, handkerchiefs, or printed paper napkins, which are intended for temporary use and disposal.
  3. One should never discard an American flag in the trash; instead, it should always be properly disposed of when it becomes old or worn. According to the U.S. Flag Code, when an American flag is no longer suitable for display due to wear, it should be retired in a respectful manner. This may include burning, burial, or participating in a flag recycling program.

It's essential to emphasize that the listed codes are not exhaustive; there are additional guidelines to be followed when showing respect and displaying the American flag.

How to hang an American Flag vertically:

When hanging an American Flag against a wall, whether vertically or horizontally, the union side of the Flag should be positioned at the top, to the Flag’s own right and the observer’s left.

How to display the American flag at home:

There are multiple methods through which homeowners can proudly and respectfully display the American flag on their property. Some methods of at home display include in ground flag poles, telescoping flag poles, and wall mounted flag poles. It's also important to note that when displaying an American flag at home, it should be properly illuminated at night. If not, it should be taken down and brought indoors. You can find an excellent flagpole light to go with your flagpole.

When to fly a United States flag at half-mast:

During times of mourning, the American flag is flown at half-staff. The term “half-staff” indicates a flag positioned halfway between the top and bottom of the staff.

NOTE: For flag information and the regulations listed in the Flag Code, please click on the links below.