Flag Etiquette


  • The flag is to be flown from sunrise to sunset on buildings, homes and flagpoles. Once the sun goes down, the flag is to be taken indoors, unless…
    • A flag may be displayed in darkness ONLY if it is illuminated by some light.
  • The flag is to be raised quickly and lowered ceremoniously.
  • The flag should not be flown in inclement weather (unless it’s an all-weather flag.)
  • Flags should be flown daily on or near administration buildings of every public institution, in or near schoolhouses and in or near polling places during elections.
  • No other flag should be placed or fly higher than the US flag if flown together.
    • Exception:
      • Naval church services where Naval chaplains are allowed to fly the church pennant above the US flag
  • If the US flag is displayed on a wall, with another flag (crossed staff), then the US flag’s staff should be on the right side. Also, the US flag’s staff should be in front (on top of) the other flag’s staff.
    • Note: This will mean the US Flag is on the left side of the other flag when looking straight at it
  • If there is a group of flags, the US flag shall be placed in the center and at the highest point.
  • If the US flag is flying with State flags (or that of cities, clubs, etc.) then the US flag shall always be higher. If they’re on a flagpole, then the US flag should be hoisted first, and lowered last.  In other words, no other flag is to fly above the US flag or to the right of the US flag.
  • If the flag is going to be displayed horizontally, then the union (blue area with the stars) is to be on the top left (peak).
  • If you’re going to display the flag vertically, then the union should be on the top left.
  • When you fly the flag from a building, window or balcony, the stars (union) should be at the top or peak.
  • If you fly the flag on a building, suspended over a public sidewalk, then the stars (union) should be the farthest from the building.
  • When you fly the flag over a street, it should hang vertically. The stars should be to the North or to the East.
  • The flag should never be displayed upside down….except for a distress signal!
  • The flag should never have anything touch beneath it like the ground, water, floor, carpet, items of any kind.
  • The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling. (like a tent)
  • The flag should never be marked, drawn on or disfigured in any way.
  • The flag should never be used as a bag or carrying device.
  • The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally.



  • If you see the flag pass by in a parade you should stand at attention and put your right hand (open flat) over your heart and if you are in uniform you should salute.
    • This should be done as soon as the flag passes in front of you. Once it passes, you can put your hand down.
  • As far as the flag in the parade goes, if the US flag is in a procession with another flag, then the US flag should be on the “marching right”…in other words the flag’s own right or the right side of the marcher as he/she goes down the street.
  • If there are a bunch of flags in a procession along with the US flag, then the US flag is to be in the front of the group and in the center.
  • Aliens should also stand at attention for the US flag.



  • The flag should not be draped over the hood, side or top of a car, train or boat. If you’re going to have a flag on your car, it has to be mounted firmly to the chassis or right fender
  • On caskets, the flag should be placed so the union is at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased.
  • The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.
  • A US flag that is going to be placed at a podium should have prominence. If the flag is not put on the podium ( speaker’s left = to the right of the audience) then it should be flat on the wall behind the speaker’s left side, which means it’s viewed to the audience on the right side, with the stars (union) to the top left.
    • If there are going to be other flags present besides the US flag, then they should be to the right of the US flag (either at the podium or on the floor by the podium) as viewed by the audience. This is so that the US Flag is the first one seen by the audience, since Americans view (read) left to right.
  • This rule also applies if the flag is on a stage or church pulpit.



  • The flag is flown at half-staff (or half-mast) all day on the following holidays:
    • December 7 – Pearl Harbor Day
    • May 15 – Peace Officers Memorial Day
    • July 27 – Korean War Veterans Armistice Day
  • On Memorial Day, the flag is flow half-staff only until noon. Then it’s raised to the top to be flown until sunset.
  • The US President can also order that the flag be flown at half-staff anytime someone of importance to the government dies, or a Governor of a State dies.
  • Governors of a state can declare that the flag be flown at half-staff in their state when a former governor of that state dies.
  • If you have a flag that can’t be moved (on a pole like those on homes) and you’re supposed to fly the flag at half-staff then you should attach a black ribbon to the top of the flag. Preferably, the black ribbon (or streamer) should be the same width as the stripes are.



When the National Anthem is being sung and the flag is displayed, everyone who is not in uniform should stand at attention, face the flag, and put their right hand over their heart.  If men are wearing a hat, then they should take their hat off with their right hand and place their hats over their left shoulder, with their hand being over their heart.

For those in uniform, they should salute at the first note of the National Anthem and keep the salute until the last note of the song.

If the flag is NOT present during the National Anthem, then you are to face the musical source and act as if the flag is there with the correct actions.



• On caskets, the flag should be placed so the union is at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased.

• The flag must not be lowered into the grave or touch the ground at any time



  1. Take the flag and fold it lengthwise
  1. Bring the striped half up over the blue area (union).
  1. Then repeat with the blue area on the outside.
  1. You should have a long, narrow rectangular shape
  1. Continue all the remaining folds into smaller triangles
  1. https://youtu.be/4Nw8FcU4dyM



If you counted, the flag was folded 13 times. Some believe this symbolizes the 13 original colonies. However, each fold has a symbolic meaning as well.

Fold 1
Symbol of Life (fold in half lengthwise)

Fold 2
Belief in Eternal Life (folded in half lengthwise again)

Fold 3
The 3rd fold is to honor and remember the veterans departing the ranks who gave a portion of their lives for the defense of the country to attain peace throughout the world.
(First small triangle fold at the end right end.)

Fold 4
Represents our weaker nature. As humans and American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn in times of peace as well as in time of war for His divine guidance.

Fold 5
Is a tribute to our country, for in the words of Stephen Decatur, “Our country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right; but it is still our country, right or wrong.”

Fold 6
Where the American Heart lies. We place our hand over our heart when we pledge allegiance, love our country and serve/defend our nation.

Fold 7
Is a tribute to the Armed Forces, for it is through the Armed Forces that we protect our country and our flag against all her enemies.

Fold 8
Is a tribute to the one who entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that we might see the light of day.

Fold 9
A tribute to womanhood and to mothers for it has been through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion that the character of the men and women who have made this country great have been molded.

Fold 10
A tribute to Fathers who have also given their sons and daughters to serve and defend this country.

Fold 11
Represents the bottom area of the seal of King David and King Solomon and glorifies in the Hebrews eyes, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Fold 12
Represents the emblem of eternity and represents the Christian Trinity (Father, Son, Holy Ghost.)

Fold 13
This is the final fold. All the stars show. And, it represents “In God We Trust.”

Once the flag is all folded and the end is tucked in, it is similar to a triangular hat. This is to remind us of all the soldiers who fought under General George Washington. And, all the sailors and marines who served under Captain John Paul Jones. These men were later followed by the men who we now call servicemen in all branches of the Armed Forces of the United States and ensuring for us all the rights, privileges and freedoms we all enjoy today.



Flags do wear out.  When they do, they should never be tossed in the garbage.  Instead, they should be destroyed in a dignified manner.  This is usually done with a burning ceremony.  You should contact your local VFW or American Legion Club to see if they offer services for old flags.



Flag buntings for decorating during holidays, parades, speaker’s platforms, etc. should be arranged where the blue is on top, then white and then red.  I know we normally say “Red, White and Blue” but in this case, buntings are to be done, Blue, White and Red.  I think this is because the blue represents the union and as with previous rules for flying our flag, the blue part always goes to the North or on top.



  • The US Flag itself should never be cut-up and worn as clothing, drapes, or anything along these lines.
  • DO NOT just fold it any way, ruffle it, twist it out of shape, etc.
  • Flag should not be used as a costume. A flag patch or lapel pin on clothing is allowed and is supposed to be worn near the heart.



You are encouraged to fly the flag on the following holidays:

January 1 — New Year’s Day

January 18 — Martin Luther King Jr.’s Birthday

February 12 — Lincoln’s Birthday

February 15 — Washington’s Birthday and Presidents’ Day

March 27 — Easter Sunday

May 8 — Mothers’ Day

May 15 — Peace Officer’s Memorial Day*

May 21 — Armed Forces Day

May 30 — Memorial Day*

June 14 — Flag Day

June 19 — Fathers’ Day

July 4 — Independence Day

July 27 — Korean War Veterans’ Day

September 5 — Labor Day

September 11 — Patriot Day*

September 17 — Constitution Day

September 25 — Gold Star Mothers’ Day

October 9 — Firefighters’ Memorial Day*

October 10 — Columbus Day

October 27 — Navy Day

November 11 — Veterans Day

November 24 — Thanksgiving Day

December 7 — Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day*

December 25 — Christmas Day

All election days

State birthdays and holidays

Inauguration Day (every fourth year)


* — denotes half-staff observations.



The 21-gun salute at a funeral represents the sum of the numbers for the year 1776.

A Flag Expert is called a A Flag A flag expert is called a “Vexillologist”








The 21-gun salute at a funeral represents the sum of the numbers for the year 1776.


A Flag Expert is called a “Vexillologist”