Flag Etiquette

The basic rule of flag etiquette is simply: treat all flags with respect and common sense.

U.S. Flag Etiquette

Use of the US Flag is established by custom, and by Public Law 94-344 approved by the 94th Congress, and signed by the President of the United States also know as the Federal Flag Code.

The US Flag is to be displayed only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. The flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

The Stars and Stripes (United States Flag) takes precedence over all other flags when flown within the United States. It should not be smaller than another flag flown with it. Other flags may, however, be flown the same height and in the same size. Other national flags should not be smaller nor flown lower than the Stars and Stripes when displayed together. If it is not possible to display two or more national flags at the same height, it is not proper to display them together at all.

The point of honor is on the extreme left from the standpoint of the observer ("the flag's right"). The order from left to right of flags flown together is: the Stars and Stripes, other national flags in alphabetical order, state flags, county and city flags, organizational flags, personal flag.

If one flag is at half-staff in mourning, other flags flown with it should be at half-staff. First raise the flags to their peak, then lower to half staff. The Stars and Stripes is raised first and lowered last.

A salute (hand over heart and head cover removed for non-veterans) should be rendered when the flag is raised, lowered, or carried by on parade, when the national anthem is played.

When the flag is not displayed, those present should face towards the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

No flag should be flown during weather that might damage it, based on a common sense interpretation of circumstances.

To extend the life of a flag, when it is torn it should be repaired and under no circumstances should a flag be folded while wet.

When a flag is no longer of dignified appearance and cannot be repaired, the flag should be destroyed in private in a dignified way without ceremony.

In a public gathering (lecture hall, church, etc.), the Stars and Stripes should be to the right of the speakers or on the wall above and behind them.

The union of the flag (the blue 'field' with the 50 stars) should always be to the left of the observer except:

The Stars and Stripes should be in the center of a group of flags only when:

It is not illegal or improper to fly any flag (state, ethnic group, organization, etc.) alone, but it is always preferable to display the Stars and Stripes at the same time.

Gary D. Moore, (The Last) Chairman, Michigan Agent Orange Commission
5161 Howard Road
Smiths Creek, Michigan 48074-2023 USA
e-mail: novel@gmasw.com

Update: June 6, 2012