Can You Hang the U.S. Flag Vertically?

Published on
February 28, 2022 at 3:57:39 PM PST February 28, 2022 at 3:57:39 PM PSTth, February 28, 2022 at 3:57:39 PM PST

What is the Meaning of a Vertically Hanging Flag?

Hanging a flag vertically does not have a special meaning per se. In other words, as long as the display of the flag follows proper flag etiquette, the vertical display does not convey a special meaning. 

The flags we most associate with vertical hanging are usually advertising flags, though the American flag is oftentimes displayed in a vertical position at a street parade or festival such as on Veterans Day, Memorial Day or Independence Day.

However, there is a certain national flag that is specifically not to be hung vertically. So, let’s dwell on this topic a bit more and answer a few interesting questions.

Can You Hang the U.S. Flag Vertically?

Yes, you absolutely can hang the Old Glory vertically. When done according to U.S. flag code, this display gives proper respect to our national flag. The blue field should always be at the top left on a vertical display. The flag should never touch the ground or water in any way, even when it is being displayed with other national flags from around the world.

How Do You Hang the American Flag Vertically?

According to U.S. Flag Code, you must hang the flag so that the union (the blue field with white stars) is to the observer’s left, i.e. the flag’s own right. Also, the flag should be hung vertically with the canton that is the farthest from the building.

When the U.S. flag is displayed in a window, the field of stars should be to the left from the viewpoint of an observer on the street.

Of course, hung vertically or horizontally, no part of the flag should touch the ground.

What if the Flag is Over a Street?

In ideal conditions, when the U.S. flag is hanging on a horizontal rope from a building, the field of stars should point to the north or east. In other words, the union should be facing north in a west/east street. Hence, the union is to face east in a north/south street. When flown over a street, the flag must be positioned high enough that it does not interfere with any vehicular or foot traffic beneath it.

What Does It Mean if the Union Is Not in the Correct Place?

When the union is not to the observer’s left, this display of the flag is a sign of alarm. It is a signal that people or their property are in grave danger. Therefore, hanging a flag upside down is permitted only in such dire situations and otherwise is strictly prohibited by flag code.

How to Hang the American Flag with Other Flags

When flying the U.S. flag with those of other nations, states, communities or societies on separate flag poles at equal heights lined up side-by-side, the American Flag must be given the central position of honor.

To ensure proper respect of the U.S. flag flown in combination with others, follow these simple rules. When flying the American flag with other nations' banners or pennants, all should be the same size and fly at similar heights. 

Can I Leave an American Flag Out at Night?

The answer is yes, if you have proper lighting. A solar-powered light or street lamps should illuminate the colors of your Stars and Stripes easily enough that they are visible from a distance away after dark. You can also keep an eye on them by mounting one of our lighted poles near them. This will help guide any passing cars right through without reducing visibility. Make sure all your gear works well together. Consider using battery-operated globe protectors over the top of the gear. 

Note that, as indicated in the Flag Code, our American flag should never be flown in inclement weather.

Which National Flag Is Not Hung Vertically?

While the U.S. Stars and Stripes can be hung vertically or horizontally, there is one country in the world that has to order specialized flags to be made when the vertical display is requested (for example, in the Olympics or similar sports competitions). Vertical hoisting of the Saudi Arabia flag is rarely done.

The reason for this is the fact that this national flag has an inscription (the creed) and emblem (the sword) that must be rotated when displayed vertically. The Saudi Arabian flag is normally manufactured with identical obverse and reverse sides so that they can be read properly from either side.

For More Information on Flag Etiquette