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 1924.
Congress in 1942 adopted a resolution 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 it:
"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."
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
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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
6. 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.
7. 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.
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 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.
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.