A Proper Display: The Flag Etiquette Rules You Need to Know

flag etiquette rules

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The American flag has changed several times since it was officially adopted on June 14, 1777. While the stars and stripes have always been part of the design, the arrangement, number of stars, and other design features have changed multiple times. The current design with 13 stripes and 50 stars has been in use since 1960. Old Glory is a symbol of the country, and as such, there are important flag etiquette rules you always need to follow. These guidelines on things like how to properly hang a flag and when to fly a flag at half staff show respect for the flag and the country.

Keep reading for American flag rules you need to follow when displaying the Stars and Stripes.

Display the American Flag the Highest

The American flag should always be displayed with the union, which is the field of blue with white stars, to the left, and at the top. A flag can be flown upside down with the union at the bottom, but this should only be done in times of distress. 

It should also hold the highest position when other flags are also flown. This includes flags of other countries, state flags, or flags to support a specific cause of belief. The American flag should be the highest.

When you fly multiple flags on one flag pole, that means the American flag should always be the top flag. Other flags go below Old Glory.

If you have each flag on its own pole, the American flag should still have the highest positioning. Ensure that no other flags on the other flag poles are displayed higher.

Fly It to the Viewer’s Left

If another flag is flown at the same level as the American flag, the position of those flags is important. The American flag should appear on the viewer’s left. In other words, when you’re standing in front of the flags and looking at them, the U.S. flag should be on your left.

You can also place the U.S. flag at the center of a group of flag poles with the U.S. flag higher than the other flags. When displayed with flags from other nations, the American flag is always raised first and lowered last.

In a parade, the flag should be carried so it’s on the left for the viewer. It can also be carried in front of all other flags at the center. 

Hang With the Union on the Viewer’s Left

The correct way to hang a flag on a wall is to position the field of stars at the top. The blue field should go on the viewer’s left, whether you display the flag vertically or horizontally on the wall. If you’re standing in front of the flag and looking at it on the wall, you should see the stars in the upper left-hand corner.

The same rule applies if you hang an American flag in the window. When looking at the flag from the street, the union should be to the left at the top.

If the flag is displayed over a street, it should be displayed vertically. On a street that runs east and west, the union should be to the north. On north and south street, the union should be to the east.

Light the Flag at Night

In general, flag etiquette rules say to fly your flag only from sunrise to sunset. This allows the flag to be seen fully and gives it the respect it deserves.

You can fly your flag at night, but standard flag rules say you should light the American flag after sunset and as long as it’s dark. This allows Old Glory to be seen properly even in the dark.

Using our Titan solar light is an easy way to ensure your flag is always properly illuminated. You never have to worry about remembering the light.

Take It Down in Bad Weather

U.S. flag code says the American flag should fly from sunset to sunrise on days with good weather. When you’re experiencing inclement weather, the flag should come down unless you have an all-weather flag on your flagpole, as it is acceptable to fly an all-weather flag that’s designed to withstand those elements during bad weather.  Flagpole Farm supplies an all-weather flag with each of its Titan Telescoping Flagpole Kits.

However, taking down your flag during a storm protects it from damage. In a severe storm, even an all-weather flag could get damaged. Storing the flag safely during a storm also shows respect to the symbol of the country.

Know When to Fly It at Half Staff

There are many different reasons to fly a flag at half staff, typically in times of state or national mourning. It’s often done as a sign of mourning when a prominent figure, such as a president, former president, vice president, chief justice, senator, or governor, passes away. Orders to fly flags at half staff can happen at various times.

One time that’s always standard to fly a flag at half staff is on Memorial Day. American flag rules say you should fly your flag at half staff until noon on that day. You can then raise it.

When it’s appropriate to display your flag at half staff, flag etiquette says you should first raise it fully before lowering it to its position at half staff. When you take the flag down for the day, you should raise it fully again before completely lowering it.

Additional Flag Etiquette Rules

An American flag should never touch the ground or anything below it when you’re raising or lowering it. When placed on a casket, the flag shouldn’t touch the ground and shouldn’t be lowered into the ground with the casket. It’s also against flag rules to dip the U.S. flag for any person or anything.

Flags should always be allowed to fall freely when hanging on display. They shouldn’t be fastened or tied down to restrict how they fall or fly.

When not being displayed, flags should be folded properly into a triangle with the union showing. The flag should remain protected while it’s stored.

Follow Flag Etiquette Rules

Flag etiquette rules ensure that you’re showing the proper respect to our nation’s flag. The goal of flag rules is to keep Old Glory prominent and in good condition.

Now that you know how to properly hang a flag, explore our collection of flagpoles and accessories to make the display easier.

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