Proper Display of US Flag & Organizational Flag

Overview

While honoring flag etiquette is not a law punishable with penalty, it is a sign of respect and pride when you properly display and care for a flag. This goes for flags of the United States, individual state flags, flags of other organizations, and flags of other countries. Consider etiquette procedures to follow for indoors and outdoors, on poles and laid flat.

Outside

If you are hanging the U.S. flag above an opening such as across a street (spanning across a large opening usually with the use of ropes or cords), it should be hung vertically rather than horizontally as many think. The stars of the flag should be pointing north with the stripes descending south. When hoisted on a staff vertically or at an angle, the blue corner should be at the peak (ah the top). When you are not flying the flag on a staff or pole, lay it flat against the wall either vertically or horizontally, but always with the blue square, known as the union, in the upper left corner in the eye of the observer. This same rule applies for flags displayed in a window.

Inside

If the flag is hoisted on a pole inside a church, auditorium, school, or stage near a podium, it must be placed in a forward position to the audience to the speaker's right. As with outside walls, if displayed inside on a wall it can hang vertically or horizontally but with the union in the upper right (observer's left).

Among Other Flags

When there are multiple flags flying next to each other, such as the American flag, a state flag and an organizational flag (such as the U.S. Navy), the American flag should always be peaked higher than the rest. When the flags are raised, the Stars and Stripes must be hoisted first and taken down last. In order of appearance, all other flags should be positioned to the left of the American flag, and when flown at half-mast the others should be lower than half. If the American flag is being displayed among flags of other nations, it must be flown at equal height to the rest. One cannot be higher than the other.

What Not to Do with the Flag

The American flag should never be worn as a piece of clothing, a cape or a head scarf. The flag is not a fashion statement and technically should not be worn as one. Other unacceptable uses include draping as a table cloth, a chair cover, or a ceiling cover. Do not use it as a bag or harness, and never let it touch the ground. While inappropriate handling or display of the flag will not get you arrested for crimes against patriotism, it is a sign and act of respect to properly handle the U.S. flag, and any flag of any organization for that matter. The same respect and care in display should be applied to all flags of any organization. A flag is a physical image of the idea it represents, so show the same respect to the symbol of the United States as you would for the country itself.

Who Can Help

Keywords: flag etiquette, American flag raising, U.S. flag displays

About this Author

Mallory Ferland has been writing professionally since her start in 2009 as an editorial assistant for Idaho-based Premier Publishing. Her writing and photography have appeared in "Idaho Cuisine" magazine, "Spokane Sizzle" and various online publications. She graduated from Gonzaga University in 2009 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in history and French language and now writes, photographs and teaches English in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

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