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American Flag Etiquette 101: A Guide To Flag Usage, Placement, Display Order And Size Selection

Written by
Rob Brittain
Published on
May 12, 2021 5:46:00 AM PDT May 12, 2021 5:46:00 AM PDTth, May 12, 2021 5:46:00 AM PDT

Much like drivers must follow a series of universally-agreed-upon rules and regulations when driving a vehicle, so must businesses and individuals follow a series of flag etiquette rules when displaying an American flag. Below is a guide to American flag etiquette that answers many frequently asked questions regarding the placement and the display of the American flag:

 

How should I display the American flag when flown on a flagpole with another flag? When the American flag is flown on the same flagpole as a state flag, city flag or company flag, the U.S. flag must always be displayed at the top of the pole in a position of honor.

 

How should I display the American flag when it is flown on a separate flagpole from other flagpoles with state, city, county or company flags? The U.S. flag should always be placed in a position of honor, which is the extreme left from the most common viewing point. After displaying the American flag to the far left, then display the flags/flagpoles in the following order, left to right: state flags, county flags, city flags and company flags.

 

How should I display the American flag when it is flown alongside flags of other nations? Each flag should be the same size and should be displayed at the same height. It is inappropriate to display one country’s flag above another. Always display the American flag to the far left of all the international flags, and then display the flags of the other nations in alphabetical order from left to right.

 

How should I display the American flag when it is displayed alongside a group of flags in flag stands? In a group of flags displayed on staffs in flag stands, the U.S. flag should be positioned at the center and at the highest point of the group.

 

When directed to fly the American flag at half-staff, how do I position my flag on its flagpole? If flying a single flag at half-staff, then the center-point of the U.S. flag should be aligned with the center-point of the flagpole from top to bottom. 

 

How should I position the American flag when I’m displaying it against a wall or a window? When displayed either horizontally or vertically, the American flag’s blue field should be positioned to the observer’s top left.

 

How should I display the American flag when it is either suspended or hung over a street?

When not on a staff, the U.S. flag should be displayed flat, or suspended so that its folds fall free. When the American flag is displayed over a street, position the blue field so that it faces north on a street that runs east to west, or so that it faces east on a street that runs north to south.

 

How should I display the American flag when it is part of a crossed staff display with another flag? When it is displayed with another flag against a wall and from a crossed staff, the American flag should be on the right, the flag's own right (the viewer's left), and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.

 

How should I position the American flag when it is displayed in an auditorium or in a church setting? When the U.S. flag is displayed on a staff situated on a platform or stage with a speaker, the U.S. flag should be positioned to the speaker's right (and to the audience’s left). Additional flag sets located on the platform should be displayed to the right of the American flag from the most common viewing point. In addition, if the U.S. flag is displayed on a staff that is on the same level as the audience (not on a platform or a stage), then the flag should be positioned to the audience’s right. Finally, if the American flag is displayed flat or hung vertically, it should be positioned above and behind the speaker with additional flags positioned to the right from the most common viewing point.

 

How should I position the American flag when displayed from a staff that is mounted on a balcony, windowsill or the front of a building? Position the U.S. flag so that its blue field is closest to the top of the staff.

 

If I plan to fly my American flag from a flagpole, how do I determine what size flag is best suited for the height of my flagpole? As a general rule, the length of the flag should be approximately a quarter of the height of its flagpole. The following chart can be used as a general guide to help you choose the proper flag size based on the height of your flagpole.

 

Flag Etiquette Guidelines

As a complement, these flag etiquette guidelines, Section 176 of the U.S. Flag Code, provide these additional insights regarding the proper use and display of the American flag:

  1. The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
  2. The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water or merchandise.
  3. The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
  4. The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform and for decoration in general.
  5. The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled or damaged in any way.
  6. The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
  7. The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture or drawing of any nature.
  8. The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying or delivering anything.
  9. The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.
  10. No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.
  11. 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.

 

As you put these American flag etiquette rules into practice, if you are in need of a new American flag to display at either your home or your office, Carrot-Top Industries welcomes the opportunity to meet your American flag needs. We offer a wide variety of American outdoor flags, indoor flags, flag sets, flag banners, mini flags and lapel pins that are available for order online. Please contact our Customer Care Professionals at 800-628-3524, shop online, or send us your product needs either by email or through our Contact Our Team online form. We offer fast shipping on all of our in-stock American flag products.

 

Online References: Flag Manufacturers Association of America and U.S. Government Publishing Office

 

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