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Flag Etiquette -
STANDARDS of RESPECT
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:
The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing.
It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for
covering a speakers desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in
general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these
purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
The flag should never be used for any advertising
purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed
on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or
anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising
signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard
The flag should not be used as part of a costume or
athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform
of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic
The flag should never have placed on it, or attached to
it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of
The flag should never be used as a receptacle for
receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
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
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
Note: Most American Legion Posts regularly conduct a
dignified flag burning ceremony, often on Flag Day, June 14th. Many Cub
Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops, and Girl Scout Troops retire flags
regularly as well. Contact your local American Legion Hall or Scout
Troop to 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
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
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.
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
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.