There’s nothing more patriotic than letting the American flag wave in the wind. Our flag is a vibrant symbol of American justice, freedom, and democracy. The thirteen stripes represent the original 13 colonies and the white stars represent our states.
Continental made this our official flag on June 14, 1777. If you want to show your patriotic spirit, you need to follow some American flag etiquette to display your flag.
Not sure about proper etiquette for displaying the American flag? We’ve got you covered. Keep reading to learn more.
1. Understanding Specific Standards of Respect
American flag code etiquette also has instructions on how you should not use your flag to give it a standard of respect. This means you should not dip your flag to any person or thing. Flying your flag upside should only be used as a distress signal.
Do not let the flag touch the ground, even when you lower it. Do not attach any drawings, words, marks, or insignias to the flag. You should not use the flag for advertising purposes.
2. Keeping Your Flag Clean
If your flag is no longer in great condition or is worn out, you should destroy it. However, you need to do it in a dignified way which is preferably burning the flag according to the flag code.
There is a popular myth that you have to burn your flag if it touches the ground. This is not true. If your flag is still in good condition, you can continue to display your flag if it accidentally touches the ground.
3. Keeping It Lit
You should display your flag in light. This means displaying the flag from sunrise to sunset or flagpoles or buildings. You can fly the flag 24-hours a day as long as the flag is properly illuminated.
Proper lighting means the flag is easily recognizable by others at night, so you can shine a spotlight on it to make sure you can clearly see all parts of the flag.
4. Wearing the Flag
According to the flag code, you should not wear the flag as a costume or sportswear. You can wear a patch or lapel flag pin. The American flag patch etiquette calls for wearing the flag over your heart.
5. Displaying in a Window
When you display the flag in the window, the flag should have the blue field (or union) to the left of the observer in the street. If you are displaying the flag vertically or horizontally, you should have the union on the upper left-hand side.
If you want to showcase the flag over the middle of a street, it should be displayed vertically with the union to the north if it is on an east or west street. If the street is north and south, place the union to the east.
6. Displaying With Another Flag
If you display the American flag with another flag on a telescoping flagpole, you should put the American flag above the other flag’s right, which is the observer’s left. If flags of two or more nations are displayed together, they should be flown on separate staffs at the same height. The flags should also be equal in size.
If you are flying the flag of your state, city, or other localities with the American flag, the American flag should always be at the peak. No other flag should be placed above or to the right of the U.S. flag.
7. Flying Flag at Half-Staff
The term half-staff means one-half the distance to the top and the bottom of the staff. If you fly your flag at half-staff, you need to hoist the flag to the peak of the staff first and then lower it to the half-staff position.
There are occasions when you should fly your flag at half staff. For example, on Memorial Day, you should display your flag at half staff until noon and then raise it to the top of the staff. The flag should also be flown at half-staff when the President orders it after a death of a political figure to follow American flag half-staff etiquette.
8. Folding Your Flag
Along with how you display your flag, you should also fold it properly. Do not wad up your flag and throw it in a box.
There is no official code on how to fold the flag, but the American Legion folds the flag into a triangle similar to a three-corner hat. The blue and stars show on the top of the fold.
The flag should not touch anything below it when you store it or touch the ground.
9. Displaying on a Vehicle
If the flag is flown alone, it should be centered on the back of a motorcycle. Or to the right side of the motorcycle for the rider’s perspective when facing forward. If you display the flag with other flags, your flags should be the same in size and at the same height.
The U.S. flag should be placed at the center and other flags should be arranged in alphabetical order or order of decreasing importance—which is nations first, states or territories second, military third, and then others.
The orientation of vehicle flag decals should be the same as arm patches. You should place these decals or paintings so the union on the driver’s side would be to the observer’s left. The union displayed on the passenger side should be to the viewer’s right.
Following American Flag Etiquette
Letting the American flag fly over your home or business is a great symbol of your freedom and America’s history. Be sure to follow these American flag etiquette guidelines so you respect the flag and its meaning.
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