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Flag Etiquette Tips

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The fundamental rule of flag Etiquette is "treat all flags with respect and common sense."
  The improper use and display of a U.S. flag and flags of your visitors is worse than no display at all.
  The U.S. flag is flown upside down only as a sign of distress. It can be a great insult to fly a flag upside down. Great care should be taken when displaying flags of others.
 When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall or in a window, the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the observer's left.


The U.S. flag takes precedence over all other flags when flown within the United States. It should be raised first and lowered last. It should not 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 national flags should not be smaller nor flown lower than the Stars and Stripes when displayed together. If it is not possible to display two or more national flags at the same height, then it is not proper to display them together at all.
 The point of honor is on the extreme left from the standpoint of the observer. The order from left to right of flags flown together is: the U.S. flag, other national flags in alphabetical order, state flags, county and city flags, organizational flags, personal flag.
 The U.S. flag, when 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.
 If one flag is at half-staff in mourning, other flags flown with it should be at half-staff. First raise the flags to their peak, then lower to half-staff. The U.S. flag is raised first and lowered last.
  A salute (hand over heart for those not in uniform) should be rendered when the flag is raised, lowered, or carried by on parade; when the Pledge of Allegiance is recited; and when the national anthem is played (unless the flag is not present). Veterans and active-duty military not in uniform may now render the military-style hand salute.
  If the flag is displayed at night, it should be illuminated.
  When a flag is no longer of dignified appearance and cannot be repaired, it should be destroyed in a dignified way (burned or sealed in a bag or box before being sent out for trash collection).
 In a public gathering (lecture hall, church, etc.), the U.S. flag should be to the right of the speakers (observer's left) or on the wall behind them.
 The U.S. flag should be in the center of a group of flags only when:
  1. the center pole is taller than the others or
  2. when a fan-like arrangement makes the center pole higher than the others.
  It is not illegal or improper to fly any flag (state, ethnic group, organization, etc.) alone, but it is always preferable to display the U.S. flag at the same time.
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This page created - September 28, 1997