U.S. Flag Etiquette
For nearly 50 years after Congress authorized the design for our flag,
citizens had no uniform set of rules to guide them in displaying and
showing respect for the flag.
To supply such a guide,
a National Flag Conference was held in Washington. D.C. on Flag Day,
June 14 1923. Representatives of sixty-eight organizations met and
drew up a Flag Code, which was revised by a second Conference in
a resolution in 1942 which made the Flag Code a law. This resolution was
amended on July 7, 1976 and became Public Law 94-344 commonly called
the Flag Code.
Here are some of the
provisions contained in this resolution:
"The flag should
be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously. The flag should not
be displayed out-of-doors on the days when the weather is
inclement. The flag should be displayed daily, weather permitting,
on or near the main administration building of every public
institution. The flag should be displayed in or near every polling
place on election days. The flag should be displayed during school
days in or near every schoolhouse."
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 the 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
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
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.
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.
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... for personnel of the Navy... when the
church pennant may be flown above the flag.
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.
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.
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.
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
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 of
approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of
the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.
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 the right of the audience.
Note: the U.S. flag should always
be on its own right in relation to other flags on adjacent staffs - to
the left of the observer - except when displayed as in #5.