U.S. Flag Protocol

How to Display the Flag

  1. When the flag is 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.
  2. 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 flag's own right [that means the viewer's left --Webmaster], and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.
  3. 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. By "half-staff" is meant lowering the flag to one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff. Crepe streamers may be affixed to spear heads or flagstaffs in a parade only by order of the President of the United States.

  4. 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 right of the flag of the United States (the viewer's left). When the flag is half-masted, both flags are half-masted, with the US flag at the mid-point and the other flag below.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. When the flag is displayed in a manner other than by being flown from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out. 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 it should be displayed in the same way, that is with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street. When festoons, rosettes or drapings are desired, bunting of blue, white and red should be used, but never the flag.

  9. That the flag, when carried in a procession 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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 of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.

  12. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium on or off a podium, 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 (to the right of the audience).

  13. When the flag is displayed on a car, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.

  14. When hung in a window where it is viewed from the street, place the union at the head and over the left shoulder.


The flag is flown at half-staff (or half-mast if on a ship) all day on the following holidays:

December 7 – Pearl Harbor Day

May 15 – Peace Officers Memorial Day

July 27 - Korean War Veterans Armistice Day

On Memorial Day, the flag is flown at half-staff until Noon. It is then raised to the top to be flown until sunset.

The U.S. President can also order that the flag be flown at half-staff anytime someone of importance to the government dies, or a Governor of a state dies.

The Governor of a state can declare that the flag be flown at half-staff in their state when a former governor of the state dies.

If you have a flag that can't be moved (on a pole like those on homes) and you're supposed to fly the flag at half-staff, you should attach a black ribbon to the top of the flag. Preferably, the black ribbon (or streamer) should be the same width as the stripes are.

Memorial Day

For 142 years, Americans have taken the last Monday in May to remember those who have died in our wars. Like all deaths honored by the state, flags fly at half-staff. However, on Memorial Day, the U.S. flag only flies at half-staff for the first half of the day, and then is raised to full height from noon to sundown. This unique custom honors the war dead for the morning, and living veterans for the rest of the day.

No one knows the exact date this tradition began, but an Army regulations book from 1906 carries instructions for the procedure, so it predates the 20th Century, said Clark Rogers, executive director of the National Flag Foundation. In 1924, Congress codified the tradition into U.S. Code Title 4, Section 6, with the proclamation, "For the nation lives, and the flag is a symbol of illumination," explaining how the noon flag-raising symbolizes the persistence of the nation in the face of loss, Rogers told Life's Little Mysteries.

"The first part of the day honors those who sacrificed, and the second part of the day honors those who are still with us," Rogers said.

The precise origin of a half-raised flag as a way to honor the fallen is also unclear, Rogers said. Some traditions say the lowered flag allows room for an invisible flag of death to fly above it. Others point to the tradition in naval warfare of lowering a flag to indicate surrender. There are also claims that lowering a flag symbolically recreates the ancient Greco-Roman tradition of signaling death with a broken column or staff, Rogers said. Currently, at least 21 countries use a lowered flag to honor the dead.

Flag Disposal

Flags do wear out. When they do, they should never be tossed in the garbage. Instead they should be destroyed in a dignified manner. This is usually done with a burning ceremony. You should contact your local VFW or American Legion to see if they offer services for old flags.

Flag Promotions, Gimmicks, Clothing

The US Flag itself should never be cut up and worn as clothing, drapes, or anything along these lines. It's also wrong to fold it, ruffle it, twist it out of shape, etc. The flag should not be used as a costume. A flag patch or pin on clothing is allowed and is supposed to be worn near the heart.

Flag Holidays

You are encouraged to fly the flag on the following holidays:

  • New Year's Day
  • Inauguration Day
  • Martin Luther King's Birthday
  • President's Day
  • Easter Sunday
  • Patriots Day
  • National Day of Prayer
  • Mother's Day
  • Armed Forces Day
  • Memorial Day (half-staff until noon)
  • Flag Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Constitution Day
  • Columbus Day
  • Navy Day
  • Veterans Day
  • Thanksgiving Day
  • Christmas Day
  • Election Days

The National Anthem

When the National Anthem is being sung and the flag is displayed, everyone who is not in uniform should stand at attention, face the flag, and put their right hand over their heart. If men are wearing a hat, they should take their hat off with their right hand and place their hats over their left shoulder with their hand being over their heart.

For those in uniform, they should salute at the first note of the National Anthem and keep the salute until the last note of the song.

If the flag is NOT present during the National Anthem, then you are to face the musical source and act as if the flag is there with the correct actions.

How to fold the flag of the United States

Take the flag and fold it lengthwise. You should have a long, narrow, rectangular shape.

Bring the striped half up over the blue area (union).

Then repeat with the blue area on the outside.

Fold from the stripe end in a triangular pattern, tucking the white flap in once completely folded.


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