U.S Flag Etiquette
This information was taken from Title 36 of the United States
Code Chapter 10 as provided by the Legal Information Institute at Cornell
University School of Law. The text is a US government document and is public
domain; it may be freely copied and retransmitted.
The following flag laws and regulations are contained in the Public Law as
amended July 7, 1976 by the 94th Congress of the United States. They set forth
the existing rules, customs and etiquette pertaining to the display and use of
the flag of the United States of America.
|Section 174. Time and Occasions for display;
hoisting and lowering
- (a) Display on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in open;
- It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise
to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open.
However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be
displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the
hours of darkness.
- (b) Manner of hoisting
- The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
- (c) Inclement weather
- The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is
inclement, except when an all weather flag is displayed.
- (d) Particular days of display
- The flag should be displayed on all days, especially on:
|New Year's Day, January 1|
|Inauguration Day, January 20|
|Lincoln's Birthday, February 12|
|Washington's Birthday, third Monday in February|
|Easter Sunday (variable)|
|Mother's Day, second Sunday in May|
|Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May|
|Memorial Day (half-staff until noon), the last Monday in May|
|Flag Day, June 14|
|Independence Day, July 4|
|Labor Day, first Monday in September|
|Constitution Day, September 17|
|Columbus Day, second Monday in October|
|Navy Day, October 27|
|Veterans Day, November 11|
|Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November|
|Christmas Day, December 25|
|and such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the
|the birthdays of States (date of admission)|
|and on State holidays|
- (e) Display on or near administration building of public
- The flag should be displayed daily on or near the main
administration building of every public institution.
- (f) Display in or near polling places
- The flag should be displayed in or near every polling place on
- (g) Display in or near schoolhouses
- The flag should be displayed during school days in or near every
Section 175. Position and manner of
The flag, when carried in a procession with another flag or flags,
should be either on the marching right; that is, the flag's own right,
or, if there is a line of other flags, in front of the center of that
- (a) The flag should not be displayed on a float in a parade
except from a staff, or as provided in subsection (i) of this
- (b) The flag should not be draped over the hood, top,
sides, or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat. When
the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly
to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.
- (c) No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if
on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of
America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains
at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during
church services for the personnel of the Navy. No person shall
display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or
international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior
prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United
States at any place within the United States or any Territory or
possession thereof: Provided, That nothing in this section shall
make unlawful the continuance of the practice heretofore followed of
displaying the flag of the United Nations in a position of superior
prominence or honor, and other national flags in positions of equal
prominence or honor, with that of the flag of the United States at
the headquarters of the United Nations.
- (d) The flag of the United States of America, when it is
displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs,
should be on the right, the flag's own right, and its staff should
be in front of the staff of the other flag.
- (e) The flag of the United States of America should be at
the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of
flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped
and displayed from the staffs.
- (f) When flags of States, cities, or localities, or
pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the flag of
the United States, the latter should always be at the peak. When the
flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States
should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant
may be placed above the flag of the United States or to the United
States flag's right.
- (g) When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they
are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags
should be approximately equal size. International usage forbids the
display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in
time of peace.
- (h) When the flag of the United States is displayed from a
staff projecting horizontally or at an angle from the window sill,
balcony, or front of a building, the union of the flag should be
placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff.
When the flag is suspended over a sidewalk from a rope extending
from a house to a pole at the edge of the sidewalk, the flag should
be hoisted out, union first, from the building.
- (i) When displayed either horizontally or vertically
against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own
right, that is, to the observer's left. When displayed in a window,
the flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue
field to the left of the observer in the street.
- (j) When the flag is displayed over the middle of the
street, it should be suspended vertically with the union to the
north in an east and west street or to the east in a north and south
- (k) When used on a speaker's platform, the flag, if
displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker.
When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the
flag of the United States of America should hold the position of
superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position
of honor at the clergyman's or speaker's right as he faces the
audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left
of the clergyman or speaker or to the right of the audience.
- (l) The flag should form a distinctive feature of the
ceremony of unveiling a statue or monument, but it should never be
used as the covering for the statue or monument.
- (m) The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first
hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the
half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak
before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day the flag should be
displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of
the staff. By order of the President, the flag shall be flown at
half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States
Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as
a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of
other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed
at half-staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or
in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent
with law. In the event of the death of a present or former official
of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the
United States, the Governor of that State, territory, or possession
may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff.
The flag shall be flown at half-staff thirty days from the death of
the President or a former President; ten days from the day of death
of the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice
of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of
Representatives; from the day of death until interment, a former
Vice President, or the Governor of a State, territory, or
possession; and on the day of death and the following day for a
Member of Congress. As used in this subsection -
- (1) the term "half-staff" means the position of
the flag when it is one-half the distance between the top and bottom
of the staff;
- (2) the term "executive or military department"
means any agency listed under sections 101 and 102 of title 5; and
- (3) the term "Member of Congress" means a
Senator, a Representative, a Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner
from Puerto Rico.
- (n) When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be
so placed that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder.
The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch
- (o) When the flag is suspended across a corridor or lobby
in a building with only one main entrance, it should be suspended
vertically with the union of the flag to the observer's left upon
entering. If the building has more than one main entrance, the flag
should be suspended vertically near the center of the corridor or
lobby with the union to the north, when entrances are to the east
and west or to the east when entrances are to the north and south.
If there are entrances in more than two directions, the union should
be to the east.
Section 176 Respect for flag
No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of
America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing.
Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags
are to be dipped as a mark of honor.
- (a) 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.
- (b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such
as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
- (c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally,
but always aloft and free.
- (d) 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
- (e) 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.
- (f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a
- (g) 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.
- (h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for
receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
- (i) 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 of halyard from which the flag is flown.
- (j) 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.
- (k) 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.
Section 177. Conduct during hoisting,
lowering or passing of flag
During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the flag is
passing in a parade of in review, all persons present except for those
in uniform should face the flag and stand at attention with the right
hand over the heart. Those present in uniform should render the military
salute. When not in uniform, men should remove their headdress with
their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over
the heart. Aliens should stand at attention. The salute to the flag in a
moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.
FLAG BURNING CEREMONY
Caller Color Guard, Advance
Color Guard Advance
Caller (When Color Guard is in place) The flag of the United
States of America is a living symbol of all we hold dear in our great nation
whose citizens believe in Liberty, Mutual respect and Justice. the flag stands
for the government of our country. It is the emblem of our freedom and of the
sovereign rights of the individual. It symbolized our respect for our nation's
past and our unswerving faith in it's future.
Color Guard retires color (from flag pole)
Flag is carried taunt horizontally, with stars at Flag Bearers
left shoulder, led to alter by Flag Bearer. (While bringing flag to alter, group
sings: "America the Beautiful").
Reader When the Flag is in such condition that it is no longer a
fitting emblem for display, it should not be cast aside or used in any way that
might be viewed as disrespectful to the national colors, but should be buried or
destroyed by fire.
Color Guards hold flag horizontally to the ground and taut,
while Flag Bearer cuts out the blue field of stars. When this is done the right
guards fold the strips with respect and the left Guards fold the stars. Flag
Bearer is then handed the stripes and she places them on the burning fire; when
it has burned sufficiently she places the stars in the fire.
Caller Join me in singing "God Bless America"
Flag bearer is then handed the new flag and she, with the Color
Guard, advance to the flag pole and raise the new flag. While flag is being
raised girl reads:
Reader I swing before your eyes as a bright gleam of colors, a
symbol of yourself, the picture suggestion of that big thing which makes this
nation. My stars and my stripes are your dreams and your labors. They are bright
with cheer, brilliant with courage, firm with faith, because you have made them
so out of your heart.
All When the flag is in place, Guards and Bearer return to the
group and everyone repeats after the reader the "American Creed":
"I believe in the United States of America. As a Government
of the people, for the people, whose just powers are derived form the consent of
the governed: a democracy in a republic; a sovereign nation of many sovereign
states. a Perfect union, one and inseparable, established upon those principles
of freedom, equality, justice, and humanity for which American patriots
sacrifice their lives and fortunes. I therefore believe it is my duty to my
county to love it, to support it's Constitution, to obey its laws, to respect
its flag, and to defend it against all enemies.
Caller Color Guard dismissed, group dismissed.