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When & How to Fly the Flag - U.S. Flag Store

When & How to Fly the Flag of the United States of America and Flag Etiquette - U.S. Flag Store

Flag etiquette can be a daunting and sometimes confusing issue, but that's why The United States Flag Store has compiled this information for you! We'll try to cover some of the basics. Here at the United States Flag Store, we try to not only offer you great products, but to also arm you with the know-how and ins and outs of your favorite flags and flying them.

When can you fly the American Flag?

You can fly the American flag any day of the year, there are certain holidays we have listed below that are recommended to especially fly Old Glory. The typical times in which your flag should be displayed are sunrise to sunset, unless of course you have a light dedicated to shine on the flag during non-daylight hours.

Clock

January 1st New Year's Day

Martin Luther King Jr.

3rd Monday in January Martin Luther King Day

U.S Captiol

January 20th Inauguration Day

President Abraham Lincoln

February 12 Lincoln's Birthday

President George Washington

February 22 Washington's Birthday

Varied Easter eggs

Varied Easter Sunday

Patriots

3rd Monday in April Patriot's Day

Mother's day flower

2nd Sunday in May Mother's Day

Officer's Badge

May 15th Peace Officers Memorial Day

U.S Service members

3rd Saturday in May Armed Forces Day

Gift Wrapping

3rd Sunday in June Father's Day

Helicopter

July 27th Korean War Veteran's Day

1st Monday in September Labor Day

American flag flying on ourdoor flagpole

September 11th Patriot Day

U.S Constitution

September 17th Constitution Day

Gold Star Mother's Day

Last Sunday in September Gold Star Mother's Day

Department of the U.S Navy Badge

October 27th Navy Day

Solider standing with U.S flag

November 11th Veteran's Day

Thanksgiving turkey

4th Thursday in November Thanksgiving

Newpaper Headlines

December 7th Pearl Harbor Day

Christmas Ornament

December 25th Christmas Day

Map of the United States

Varied State Birthdays & Holidays

Presidential Seal

Varied Other days proclaimed by the President of the USA

How to hang an American flag?

When you are hanging the American flag, horizontally or vertically for that matter, the flag should always be upright with the union or the blue field with the stars displayed to the top left. This places the importance on the union itself. The American flag is more than just a piece of fabric, but a symbol of the country and the countless people and things it stands for and for the many brave men and women who gave themselves for it and helped shape the world we live in today. As such, the flag should always be treated with care and respect.

How to display the American flag? A couple of pointers from the U.S. Flag Code

The best way to display the American flag is either on a flagpole or in a flag display case. You can display it other ways, so long as it is done mindfully.

It is traditional to fly your flag from sunrise to sunset. The American flag should always be displayed in light, so if you wish to fly your flag after these hours, the flag must be illuminated with a dedicated spotlight.

When displaying the American flag among other flags on American soil, the American flag must always take precedence and no other flag may be placed above it. This means that the American Flag should always be displayed furthest left from an observer's perspective and in some cases, flown higher. No other flag should be flown higher or be larger than the American flag when displayed together.

It should be displayed center and highest up among state flags, it can also be flown above a state flag on the same staff.

If displaying multiple nations, the flags may be the same height and size, however, the American flag should still be the furthest left and be the first to be hoisted up and the last to be brought down.

If displayed on crossing staffs with another flag, the American flag must be on its own right (the observer's left) with its (American Flag) staff in front of the other flag's.

The Union or the stars must never be flown upside down, except as a signal of distress.

It is imperative that the flag of the United States of America never touch anything beneath it. This goes for water, the ground or anything else that may be around it, including merchandise. This rule applies for both displaying and for putting the flag up and taking it down from its place and or flagpole.

The flag should not be carried flat, but aloft and free.

It should also never be set up, displayed or kept in a manner that the flag is to be easily torn, soiled or damaged.

To not use the flag as a decoration, covering for a ceiling and to not use it as part of a costume or athletic outfit. A small flag patch may be used on uniforms for military personnel, firemen, policemen and members of patriotic organizations. As for decorations, there is a lot of patriotic bunting and pleated fans and such that are available for this very reason.

No symbol, insignia or marking of any kind should ever be placed on the American flag,

No item should be placed on the American flag.

To not be used for advertising or to be used in a fashion that it is going to be thrown away, for example, a handkerchief, paper plates or any sort of disposable item.

The American flag must also not be draped over the hood, sides or back of any car, plane, boat or railroad car. If displayed from a parade float, it must be on a staff.

At a time when the American flag has become worn, torn and no longer fit for its service as a symbol for the United States, should be destroyed in a dignified and ceremonious fashion, preferably by burning.


Location

According to the Flag Code, the American Flag should be flown:

On or near every polling place on election days Voting is one of the most important rights we have as American people. It, like the flag, represents our freedom, and stands as a basis for our governmental structure. It is a requirement that the flag is flown on election days at polling places.

On or near the main administration building of all public institutions

On or near every schoolhouse (during school days)

Conditions

Displaying your flag in proper conditions is just as important as the display tips we have pointed out above. As such, the flag of the United States of America should not be flown in inclement weather. This falls under the category that in this position that the flag may be easily torn or damaged. Even all-weather flags can get ruffled and damaged in bad weather. It is recommended that you bring your flag indoors if it is going to rain, snow, hail or storm. High winds can be problematic too.

A damaged flag is disrespectful to our nation and will require repair or replacement.

The Flag Code describes the flag as a living thing, and it should be treated as such. With the proper care, your flag can last for a long time with little or no repair.

Position

The flag should always be displayed upright with the union to the top left. Flying the flag with the union down is considered a "breach of etiquette" (Sharpman). However, it can be used as a call for help, similar to SOS, if you are in extreme danger and need assistance.

Throughout the years war protesters have flown the flag upside down to show that the entire country is in distress. It is still a debate whether this should be considered a desecration of the flag or an expression of free speech. It will usually attract negative attention from law enforcement and civilians alike.

On the United States Flag Store's website, you can explore an entire section devoted to the topic. The When and How to Fly the Flag section incorporates all the pertinent information about the appropriate hours to fly the American flag as well as proper conditions, locations and even positions.

Did you know the American flag should only be flown from sunrise to sunset? If you choose to fly your flag at night the United States Flag Code dictates that it be properly illuminated and not from the glow of a streetlamp.

Did you know the US Flag Code considers the American flag to be a living entity? Read up on all the interesting flag facts at the United States Flag Store.


When to fly the American Flag, hours and holidays

Conventional hours for flying the American flag are from sunrise to sunset. If you wish to fly your flag at night, it should have a spotlight solely dedicated to light up the flag.

You can also fly your flag of the United States of America any day of the year! But there are holidays where it is recommended to especially fly that red, white and blue.

These holidays are:

  • January 1st New Year's Day
  • 3rd Monday in January Martin Luther King Day
  • January 20th Inauguration Day
  • February 12 Lincoln's Birthday
  • February 22 Washington's Birthday or President's Day
  • Varied Easter Sunday
  • 3rd Monday in April Patriot's Day
  • 2nd Sunday in May Mother's Day
  • May 15th Peace Officers Memorial Day
  • 3rd Saturday in May Armed Forces Day
  • Last Monday in May Memorial Day
  • June 14th Flag Day
  • 3rd Sunday in June Father's Day
  • July 4th Independence Day
  • July 27th Korean War Veteran's Day
  • 1st Monday in September Labor Day
  • September 11th Patriot Day
  • September 17th Constitution Day
  • Last Sunday in September Gold Star Mother's Day
  • 2nd Monday in October Columbus Day
  • October 27th Navy Day
  • Tuesday following the 1st Monday in November Election Day
  • November 11th Veteran's Day
  • 4th Thursday in November for Thanksgiving
  • December 7th Pearl Harbor Day
  • December 25th Christmas Day
  • Varied State Birthdays & Holidays
  • Varied Other days proclaimed by the President of the USA

How to fly the flag at half-staff?

To properly fly the flag at half-staff, the flag must first be raised swiftly to the top of the flagpole for an instant and then lowered slowly with care and respect to the half-staff or half-mast position. The flag must always be brought to the top of the flagpole for a brief moment before it is lowered to half-staff for the day.

When to fly flag at half-mast?

Flying the American flag at half-mast is customary on certain days of the year of either remembrance or in the occasion, when an unexpected tragedy may strike or occur. It is also proper to fly the flag at half-staff (or half-mast) when it is a time of national mourning.

The President of the United States will generally issue this order if this is the case or on a local level, your governor may issue flags to be flown at half-mast as well.

The rule of thumb for this goes as follows:

That the flag should be flown at half-mast for 30 days after the death of the president, a former president or president elect

10 days after the death of the vice president, the chief justice or a retired chief justice of the United States Supreme Court, or the speaker of the House of Representatives.

The flag is to be displayed at half-staff from the day of death until interment, in the event of a death of a former Vice President, an associate justice of the Supreme Court, a member of the Cabinet, the president pro tempore of the Senate, the majority or minority leader of the Senate, the majority or the minority leader of the House of Representatives.

There are also certain holidays where flying the flag at half-staff is customary.

These holidays include:

  • Peace Officer's Memorial Day on May 15th from sunrise to sunset
  • Memorial Day, the last Monday in May from sunrise to noon
  • Patriot Day, September 11th from sunrise to sunset
  • Fire prevention week, a week in which October 9th lands, sunrise to sunset
  • National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, December 7th, sunrise to sunset

How to fly the flag on Memorial Day?

The correct way to fly the American flag on Memorial Day is that it will be raised to full staff briskly at sunrise and then slowly and carefully lowered to half-staff where it will stay until noon of that day.

References:

  1. U.S. Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 6 & Section 7.
  2. The Care and Display of the American Flag by the Editors of SharpMan.com 2004.
  3. U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs
  4. The American Flag | USAGov
  5. U.S. Flag Code: American Flag Etiquette, Rules, and Guidelines | The Old Farmer's Almanac
  6. How and When to Fly the Flag at Half-Staff (flagcenter.com)
  7. Flag Code FAQ: Half staff; half mast (ushistory.org)

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