Flag Etiquette

    • If you need a casket flag for a burial ceremony, please seeCasket Flag . . ‘ paragraph at bottom of this page.
    • Flag flying days, please see last paragraph on this page.
    • Flag size to pole height, please see next-to-last paragraph on this page.
  • Have a question we haven’t answered?  Reach us directly through our Contact Us page.

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Simple Rules for Flying Our Flag

The fundamental rule of flag etiquette:  Treat all flags with respect and common sense.

Our U.S. flag takes precedence over all other flags when flown within the United States.  It should never be flown lower than another flag nor should it be smaller than another flag flown with it.  Other flags may, however, be flown at the same height and in the same size.

Other nations’ flags should not be smaller or flown lower than the U.S. flag when displayed together.

The order of flags flown together is, from left to right: U.S. flag, other national flags in alphabetical order, state and territory flags, county and city flags, organization and personal flags.

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If it is not possible to display two or more national flags of the same size at the same height, do not display them; doing so is a rude violation of international flag etiquette and will most certainly upset citizens of the flag flying in the lower position.

The position of honor for our flag is on the extreme left of the observer (the presenter’s right when facing the audience.)

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 The order of flags flown together is, from left to right: U.S. flag, other national flags in alphabetical order, territory, state, county and city flags, organizations’ flags and business and personal flags.

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If displayed in a public gathering place (lecture hall, church, etc.) the U.S. flag should be on the speaker’s right, or, if displayed on the wall behind them, the flag’s canton (blue field with 50 stars ) should be upper left.

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It is not illegal or improper to fly any flag (state, ethnic group, organization, etc.) alone, but it is always preferable to display our U.S. flag with them at the same time.

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If any flag is at half-staff to indicate mourning, other flags flown with it should also be at half-staff.  First raise the mourning flags to their peaks, than lower them to half-staff.  The U.S. flag is always raised first and lowered last.

It is proper to fly the U.S. flag at night, but only if it is lighted.

Displaying our American Flag upside down indicates that people in that location are in extreme distress and need immediate assistance.  [Some years ago in Los Angeles, a group of students in a predominately Hispanic school flew our American Flag upside down on their school’s flagpole; they wanted to call attention to their dissatisfaction with certain school and local policies.  Police, fire and a large group of American Legion motorcycle riders responded and stopped that prank, immediately cutting down the flag and flying it correctly.  The pranksters rightfully received some pretty severe reprimands.]

When displaying our U.S. flag as part of a group of flags, our flag should be in the center, and the pole on which it is displayed taller than the other flag’s poles.

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Our flag can also be displayed in a fan-like arrangement as long as it is in the center of the fan, displayed slightly higher than others.

The canton of the U.S. flag should always be to the observers left. When displayed vertically over a street not using a staff, the flag’s canton should be upper left and its stripes suspended so its folds fall free. When displayed horizontally over a street, place the flag so its canton is upper left and its stripes face North or East, depending on the orientation of the street.

When displaying our flag on a wall, either horizontally or vertically, its canton should always be uppermost in the left corner. Displayed through a window, the canton should be to flag’s right when viewed from outside.

When displaying a patch, decal or sticker of an American Flag worn on the right shoulder or arm, its canton should also be on the right. But if it’s worn on the left arm or shoulder, the canton should be facing left, on its leading edge.

Pledge of Allegiance to our Flag and Manner of Delivery

“I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

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When not in uniform, the Pledge should be rendered by standing silent, at attention, facing the flag with your right hand over your heart.

When not in uniform, men should remove any non-religious headdress with their right hand and hold it at their left shoulder, their hand being over their heart.

Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render their military salute.

Members of the Armed Forces not in uniform and Veterans may render their military salute in the manner taught by the service in which they served.  In other words, if you’ve served in the armed forces of our country, you can respectfully salute our flag in or out of uniform.

Casket Flag for Burial Ceremony

American flags used to cover caskets displayed during funeral ceremonies are 5′ high (width) x 9.5′ fly (long.) They are specifically manufactured to U.S. Code Title 4 and G-Spec DDD-F-416F covering military and other G-Spec casket standards. Flag material is our Best double-ply mercerized cotton fabric with edmbroidered stars. Since it is made specifically to cover a casket, this flag should not be flown or displayed publicly as it is outside our country’s flag standard height-to-width ratio.  With its white canvass header, this flag can be folded easily into a traditional presentation triangle.  It should last indefinitely if displayed in a covered case. To order a casket flag, please call 760-247-2301.

What size flag can be flown from my in-ground pole?

Pole heights shown are above ground level; flags are height x width (fly), usually expressed as H x W.  Flag height should be at least 1/4 the height of its pole measured above ground.

Flagpole             Flag (height x fly)
20’                         3’x5’, 4’x6’
25’                         4’x6’, 5’x8’
30’                         5’x8’, 6’x10’
40’-45’                  6’x10’-8’x12’
50’                         8’x12’-10’x15’
60’-65’                 10’x15’-10’x19’
70’-80’                 10’x19’-12’x18’
90’-100’               20’x30’-30’x60’

Remember: your flag’s height should be at least one-quarter (¼) the height of its pole, measured from ground level. The first dimension in flag sizes above is its height.

Times and Occasions for Display

It is accepted custom in our country to display your American flag from sunrise to sunset on buildings that have stationary flag staffs and/or poles permanently mounted in the open.  Your American flag can be displayed any day, but please follow these simple, common-sense guidlines.

You can display your American Flag twenty-four (24) hours a day but it must be properly illuminated during hours of darkness.

Your flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all weather flag is displayed.  Please refer to Flag Construction Notes, specifically Duratex II® and Koralex II™ fabrics.

Always handle your flag carefully so that no part of it touches the ground. Securely attach your flag to its pole’s halyard, then hoist it briskly to its uppermost position.  The flag should always be lowered ceremoniously and disconnected from its halyard with care.

Your flag can be displayed any day, but the following holidays observed in the United States of America are especially important.

  • January 1, New Year’s Day
  • January 20, Inauguration Day
  • February 12, Lincoln’s Birthday
  • February 20, President’s Day
  • 3rd Monday in February, Washington’s Birthday
  • April 13, Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday
  • Variable, Easter Sunday
  • 3rd Saturday in May, Armed Forces Day
  • Last Monday in May, Memorial Day (half-staff until noon)
  • June 14, Flag Day
  • June 14, U.S. Army’s Birthday
  • July 4, Independence Day
  • July 27, Korean War Veteran’s Armistice Day
  • August 4, U.S. Coast Guard’s Birthday
  • 1st Monday in September, Labor Day
  • September 11, Patriot Day (9/11)
  • September 18, U.S. Air Force’s Birthday
  • September 17, Constitution Day
  • October 13, U.S. Navy’s Birthday
  • 2nd Monday in October, Columbus Day
  • November 7, Election Day
  • November 10, U.S. Marine Corp’s Birthday
  • November 11, Veterans Day
  • 4th Thursday in November, Thanksgiving Day
  • December 13, National Guard’s Birthday
  • December 25, Christmas Day
  • Other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States;
  • Birthdays of States (date of admission) and State holidays
  • The flag should be displayed daily 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 and near every schoolhouse.
  • The flags should be displayed within the classrooms of all schools.

This concludes Bob’s Flags and Banners Simple Rules For Flying Our Flag.  If you woluld like more information, please contact our office in Apple Valley, CA; we’ll be glad to help.

Updated December 26, 2018