American Flag

American Flag Etiquette



Description, Information and Facts about the American Flag
  • As the above picture of the American Flag indicates the overall background is 13 equal horizontal stripes of red alternating with white stripes and in the upper hoist-side corner (canton) there is a blue rectangle bearing 50 small, white, five-pointed stars
  • The 50 stars on the American Flag represent the 50 states of America
  • The number of stripes on the American flag represent the 13 original colonies which are known as Old Glory
  • The red stripes are at the top and bottom of American Flags
  • The stars are arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of stars - Six stars are displayed on the top and bottom rows of American Flags

American Flag Etiquette
  • American Flag etiquette is very strict and is is essential that Flag protocols and rules are followed correctly
  • Basic Flag Etiquette applies to all nations as follows:
  • Etiquette relating to the order of precedence for flags
    • National
    • State -
    • Military (in order of creation date)
    • Other
    • The United Nations uses alphabetical order when presenting national flags. Their flag etiquette ensures that no one country has precedence over another
    • A National flag should never be flown above another national flag on the same staff as this would suggest superiority, or conversely, inferiority
    • A flag should never be allowed to drag along the ground
    • A tattered or faded flag should be removed and replaced
    • Due care and consideration must be taken to ensure that National flags are flown the correct way up
    • Flags, when in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning in private with all due care and respect
    • The United States of America have a comprehensive Flag Code, the rules of which are detailed below
American Flag Etiquette - The American Flag Code
  • The American Flag code is the guide for all handling, etiquette and display of the Stars and Stripes
  • The American flag code was developed to ensure that "No disrespect should be shown to the Flag of the United States of America."
  • The American Flag Code was first adopted on June 14, 1923 to coincide with the first American Flag Day and provided help and guidance to all citizens regarding flag protocol
  • The flag etiquette rules for use and display of the flag was made law on December 22, 1942
  • The American Flag Code allows the American President to make any appropriate changes or include any additional rules to the code
Time and Occasions Etiquette for Displaying the American Flag
  • It is the custom to display the American flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open
  • Night Display etiquette -  the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness
  • Manner of hoisting - The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously
  • Inclement weather - The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is used
  • The American flag should be displayed daily, on or near, the main administration building of every public institution
  • Polling Day Etiquette - The American flag should be displayed in, or near, every polling place on election days
  • Schoolhouse Flag Etiquette - The American flag should be displayed, during school days, in or near every schoolhouse
American Flag Etiquette - Respect for the Flag
  • No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America
    • The American 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
  • The American 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
  • The American flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise
  • The American flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free
  • 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 general
  • The American 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
  • The American flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling
  • The American 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
  • The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything
  • 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 or halyard from which the flag is flown
  • No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform

    • A flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations

  • The American 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

  • 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.

Flag Terminology

Terminology & Etiquette in Flag display

  • Hoist - the act or function of raising a flag, as on a rope
  • Half Staff or Half Mast - the flag is hoisted to half of the potential height of the flag pole to denote grief and mourning
    • Performed by first raising the flag to the top, then lowering it halfway
  • Distress - denoted by flying the flag upside-down.
American Flag Etiquette

We hope that the presentation of facts and information regarding American Flag Etiquette has provided a useful resource. The subject of the etiquette of displaying the American Flag has been covered in detail and may be accessed by clicking the following link 'American Flag Display


American Flag Etiquette

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