Flag Etiquette

I know this post is not computer related, but I feel that it is excellent content that more people should know. As a 10-year Army Veteran and a proud US Citizen, I feel it is my responsibility to share this information. I hope that this finds its way to as many people as possible, especially those who are considering flying the Flag at their home or business.

US Flag
Rules for flying the United States Flag are governed by:
United States Code Title 4 Chapter 1.
Please read the regulation for more detailed information.


  • Union – The union is the blue portion of the Flag.
  • Staff – The pole that the Flag is attached to. Also called Flagstaff.
  • Half-staff – This is when the Flag is flown at the middle of it’s staff.
  • Half-mast – This is the same as half-staff, but in reference to a flag that is flown on a ship.

Flying the Flag

The Flag should always be flown with the union to the Flag’s right. That means, if you are the audience for the Flag, the union should be on the left. This is the same whether the flag is hung vertically or horizontally.

When the flag is suspended over a street or walkway, the Union should be to the North or West depending on the direction the street is going.

The Flag will never be flown lower than another. A state flag or other flag will fly underneath the US Flag when on a pole.When the flag of another country is flown, it will be on a separate staff and at equal height of the US Flag, never higher.

Flag Placement

The Flag is always placed in a position of superior prominence.It is always placed to the right of a speaker. Like the union, the placement would be on the left as the audience is looking at it. It will also be placed towards the front.

Another flag will never be farther to the right or in front of the US Flag.

The Flag will never touch anything beneath it, especially the ground.

Flying Outdoors

The Flag must first of all, be made of material that will handle the weather. If the Flag is not meant to be flown outdoors, it should not be.

The Flag will also be lit at ALL times. This means that the Flag must come down at night or have a light shining on it after the sun goes down.

Raising and Lowering

When raising the Flag, it is meant to be a happy and ceremonious event. It should be raised briskly.

When the Flag is to be flown at half-staff, it is to be raised to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The Flag should be raised to the peak again before being lowered for the day.

The Flag can only be ordered to half-staff by the President, Governor or the Mayor of the District of Columbia.

The Flag is always flown at half-staff on the following days:

  • Peace Officers Memorial Day, May 15th (Unless that day is also Armed Forces Day.) (sunrise to sunset)
  • Memorial Day, last Monday in May (sunrise to noon)
  • Patriot Day, September 11th (sunrise to sunset)
  • Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, December 7th (sunrise to sunset)

Folding the Flag

Fold the flag in half width-wise twice, with the union on the outside. Fold up a triangle, starting at the striped end … and repeat … until only the end of the union is exposed. Then fold down the square into a triangle and tuck inside the folds. If folded properly, no red will be shown. Flag folding image courtesy of www.capitolflags.com

Proper Care

The Flag can be dry cleaned and minor repairs can be made by a seamstress. You should be able to do some cleaning with a warm damp cloth also. Be very careful to keep the Flag off the ground when doing maintenance.

The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning

Some organizations will properly dispose of your unserviceable flags. I recommend that you contact your local VFW to inquire about flag disposal.

Other Facts

  • Veterans of the armed services may render a military salute to the Flag.
  • People from other countries should still stand at attention when the Flag is being raised or lowered, or when passing in a parade or review.
  • The Flag is flown upside-down, with the union at the bottom, when in dire distress.
  • United States Code Title 36 covers the National Anthem, National Motto, National Floral Emblem, National March and the Service Flag and Lapel Button.
  • If the Fag is to be flown at half-staff, a wall mounted flag should have three black mourning bows attached to the top edge of the flag, one at each corner and one in the center.

Closing Note:

I originally intended to keep this very short with only key points. As I started writing, I decided to add more and more. I think this is all very important information. However, I have still not included everything. Please be sure to check the regulation if you have a question. I would also be more than happy to answer any questions that I can.

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