American Flag Etiquette

American Flag Etiquette

With the United States Independence Day next week, I wanted to do a quick overview of some the the rules and etiquette around flying and displaying the American Flag. Some of these are things that are considered “common knowledge”, and others are for specific cases. Either way, whether you are a citizen or a member of our military or government, it never hurts to have a reminder of what we should and should not do with the Flag of the United States.


The American Flag should always be displayed in light. Typically, the flag is displayed from sunrise to sunset, unless it has adequate lighting on it.

Whether the flag is hung vertically or horizontally, the “union” (the blue with white stars) should always be on the viewers left.

Unless the flag is an all-weather flag, it should not be displayed outside during inclement weather.

The American Flag should be displayed every day of the year, especially on government holidays, except in the case of inclement weather.

When displayed on a flagpole or staff, the union should be at the peak of the pole. The flag is only flown upside-down in the case of a dire emergency as a distress signal.

The flag should always be allowed to fly/fall free. It should never be held back or tied back in any way.

The American Flag should never be used as a decoration, but as a symbol of respect for our country. The flag should not be used to decorate a podium, draped across a vehicle, or draped on any type of platform.

When the American Flag is displayed on a vehicle, it should be hoisted on a staff that is affixed to the chassis, never draped over the vehicle. The flag should be displayed on the center of the roof or on the passenger side, never on the left driver’s side.

With Other Flags

In a procession, the American Flag should be to the flag’s right of every other flag. There should be no flag to the right of the American Flag in a procession.

If the flag is displayed in a processions with a line of flags, the American Flag should be front and center.

No other flag should be displayed above the American Flag. If another flag is the same size and height as the American Flag, it should never be to the flag’s right (viewer’s left).

The American Flag should be the same size or larger than any other flag being displayed.

When multiple flags are displayed together, the American Flag should always be the first hoisted and the last lowered.


The American Flag should always be hoisted briskly, and lowered slowly and ceremoniously.

If the flag is to be flown at half-staff, it should be hoisted to the peak of the flag pole before lowering to the halfway point.

When the American Flag is passing in a parade, or being hoisted or lowered, all citizens should salute the flag.

  • Military in uniform should always give the American Flag a formal salute
  • Military not in uniform can choose to give a formal salute or a citizens salute
  • Citizens should stand at attention with their right hand over their heart. Men with headwear should remove it with their right hand and hold it over their left should so their hand is still over their heart.
  • The salute lasts from the moment the process starts, until it is completely finished, or until the last note of music ends if there is music, whichever lasts longer.

Once a flag has become no longer fit for use, it should be destroyed by burning the flag or in another dignified way.

Do NOT allow the flag to touch the ground, or other objects when it is being displayed.

Do NOT ever dip the flag for any person, flag, or vessel.

I feel like a lot of this is common sense when it comes to what the average citizen does in regards to respecting and displaying the American Flag. Through research for this post, I learned a few things I didn’t know, and now have a better understanding of how to properly respect our flag. It is a symbol of the country we live in, and we should take pride in displaying our nation’s flag.

If you want more information or to read the legal documents behind the etiquette for an American Flag, you can view it here:

After we moved into our house in Texas, we got a flag pole holder, and have been putting our American Flag out every morning and taking it in. Occasionally we forget to grab the flag at night, or forget to put it out in the morning. If I know rain is coming, I try to get the flag in before the weather hits our area. We aren’t perfect with the flag, but we do try to follow the codes with regards to our American Flag display.

American Flag EtiquetteAmerican Flag Etiquette

3 thoughts on “American Flag Etiquette”

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this! A lot of younger people don’t know. My dad and my husband were in the Army. Respecting the flag, and what it stands for, should be inherent in all of us. Thank you!

    1. I completely agree! My father-in-law was in the Army for 27 years and has retired to teach JROTC now. I know so many people who have had or are currently serving. As my boys get older, we will be teaching them the same respect.

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