What Is Proper Flag Etiquette?

Flags are flying off the shelves. Americans buy roughly 150 million American flags every year.

But that doesn’t mean that Americans are masters at the proper handling of the flag. Flag etiquette is not just about owning one and showing it off to your friends.

On what occasions should you display your flag? How can you start flying and hanging a flag? How do you get rid of your flag once it has ripped?

Answer these questions and you can start respecting the flag every time you display one. Here is your quick guide.

Occasions to Display Your Flag

You can start displaying your flag on any particular day. But you should display it on state and federal holidays.

Memorial Day, Independence Day, and Christmas are essential times to display your flag. You can also pick occasions like Martin Luther King Day and Labor Day.

At least one flag should be present at every public institution, including schools. It should also be displayed in or around every polling place. The administrators of the polling place can decide how they would like to display their flag.

Whenever you display your flag, make sure it is adequately lit. It should receive illumination from a spotlight at night. If you don’t have a light, you should lower it before sundown.

How to Fly Your Flag

You can fly your flag on any flag pole of your choice. You can buy a flag pole kit and make your own pole. The flag should go to the top of the pole and remain there.

You may fly a USA flag on the same pole as a state or company flag. The American flag should be the highest one. None of the flags should touch each other as they fly.

When you are displaying flags in a row, the American flag should go on the observer’s left. The flags of other nations should go on their own poles, but all of them should be at the same height.

Flying at Half-Staff

Flying your flag at half-staff means you lower your flag to one-half the distance between the staff’s top and bottom. This is a sign of respect.

You should fly your flag at half-staff when a President or another important elected official dies. You can also fly it at half-staff when your governor makes a request for such displays. If you are flying your flag during Memorial Day, it must be at half-staff from sunrise until noon.

There is a formal process for half-staff displays. You should raise your flag to the peak, then lower it to the halfway point of the staff. When you are lowering it for the day, you should repeat the gesture.

How to Hang Your Flag

You can hang your flag from a wall. Try to find a flag with holes already in it. You should not puncture your flag with hooks or damage it with tape in order to display it.

Whenever you are hanging your flag, the blue section should be on the viewer’s left. This is for horizontal and vertical displays.

The flag should go flat against the wall. It is okay for it to blow or wave in the wind. It should not touch any objects on the ground or against the wall beside the wall itself.

When you are hanging your flag on a platform, it should go above and behind the speaker. The blue section should also go to the observer’s left.

When you are hanging your flag over an east-and-west street, the blue section should point toward the north. On a north-and-south street, the blue section should point toward the east.

You can display your flag on a vehicle. But it must be on a staff that sits firmly on your chassis. You should never drape the flag over any part of your car.

You may hang an American flag alongside other ones. You should follow the same rules as flying different ones next to each other. The American one should go on the left, with all flags at the same level.

How to Dispose of Your Flag

You should dispose of your flag when it becomes tattered, faded, or desecrated in some way. Under no circumstances should you throw your flag into the garbage. You should also not tear your flag apart and incorporate its pieces into your clothing.

You should fold it into a triangle, following traditional military customs. You should then place it into a fire until it burns down to ashes. In order to make the burning more respectful, you may salute the flag and recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

If you are uncomfortable with burning your flag, you can give it to your local American Legion post. They will retire your flag in a formal ceremony alongside other ones.

You can also store your flag away. You should fold it into a triangle and then bring it inside. Put it in a drawer where dust and insects cannot get on it.

The Essentials of Flag Etiquette

Flag etiquette is a little complicated. You may display your flag whenever you like. But it must remain visible, even during the night.

Your flag should go on top of a pole unless you need to make a half-staff display. The blue area always goes on the viewer’s left.

This rule applies to hanging the flag as well. Make sure your flag is not touching any objects. If it gets damaged, you should dispose of it through a ceremonial burning.

Following flag etiquette is one way to show American pride. Find out more ways by following our coverage.

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