U.S. Flag Etiquette

ETIQUETTE FOR THE PROPER DISPLAY OF THE UNITED STATES FLAG

FLAG HOLIDAYS

News Year’s Day…………………………… January 1
Inauguration Day………………………….. January 20
Lincoln’s Birthday………………………… February 12
Washington’s Birthday… third Monday in February
Easter Sunday
Mother’s Day……………………….. second Sunday in May
Armed Forces Day……………….. third Saturday in May
Memorial Day (half-staff until noon) the last Monday in May
Flag Day…………………………………………………. June 14
Independence Day………………………………….. July 4
Labor Day……………………… first Monday in September
Constitution Day………………………………… September 17
Columbus Day………………… second Monday in October
Navy Day…………………………………………….. October 27
Veterans Day…………………………………….. November 11
Thanksgiving Day…………… fourth Thursday in November
Christmas Day…………………………………… December 25

GENERAL DISPLAY

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

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.

1. When flags of States, cities, or localities, or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the U.S., the latter should always be at the peak.
2. When flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the U.S. should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the U.S. or to the U.S. flag’s right.
3. The flag of the U.S.A., when it is displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the right, the flag’s own right, and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.
4. The flag of the U.S.A. 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.
5. When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown separate staffs or the same height.  The flags should be of approximately equal size.  International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.
6. The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is displayed.
7. When used on a speaker’s platform, the flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker.

CHURCHES, AUDITORIUMS

When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the U.S.A. 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.

HALF-STAFF

The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then 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.  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 death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory or possession of the United States, the Governor of that State, territory or possession may proclaim that the National flag may be flown at half-staff.

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 U.S.A., 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 or 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 would 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 in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.

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 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 (the stars) 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 the North and South.  If there are entrances in more than two directions, the union should be to the East.

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 (of the deceased). The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.

WEARING 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.

  • 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 to be easily torn, soiled or damaged in any way.
  • The flag should never be used for 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.

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 work 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 for which the flag is flown.

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