Flag Etiquette

Back to Useful Flag Information

This information comes from the United States Flag Code.

General Display

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 darkness.

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.

Wall Mounting 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 of 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 a 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.

Always Raise the United States Flag First, and Lowered Last

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.

Staff of United States Flag is in Front

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 staffs.

United States Flag Must be at the Highest Point when Flying amongst other Flags

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.

National Flags are Displayed at the Same Height

Back to top of page


7. When displayed 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 speakers or the right of the audience.

Podium Display


 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.

US Flags from Eagle Mountain

Folding the Flag

The flag folding ceremony is a symbolic passing of the 13 truths, one for each fold of the flag.  These truths represent the same religious principles upon which our country was originally founded.
(Flag "pops" to flat horizontal position.)
* The canton of blue is the portion of the flag denoting honor.  It contains the stars representing each state of our Veterans who have served in uniform.  The canton field of blue dresses from left to right, and is only inverted in time of distress.  It is also draped as a country mourns those in uniform who have fallen in honorable service.
* Every evening at the ceremony of retreat, the armed forces of the United States lowers and folds the flag in a triangular fold.  It is then kept under watch throughout the night as a tribute to our nation's honored dead.  The next morning, it is brought out at the ceremony of reveille and run aloft as a symbol of our belief in the resurrection of the body.
* The first fold of the flag is the symbol of life.
* The second fold is a symbol of belief in eternal life.
* The third fold is made in honor and remembrance of the veterans departing our ranks.  We pay tribute to veterans who gave a portion of their life for the defense of their country, in the hopes of attaining peace throughout the world.  A fold symbolizing their sacrifice has not been in vain, and shall never be forgotten.
* The fourth fold represents our true faith; for as American citizens trusting in God, it is to Him we turn for His divine guidance in times of peace, as well as in times of war.
* The fifth fold is a tribute to our country; for in the words of the immortal Steven Decatur, "Our Country, in dealing with other countries, may she always be right, but right or wrong she is still our country."
* The sixth fold is where our hearts lie, because it is with our hearts that we 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.
* The seventh fold is to our armed forces; for through these same armed forces we protect our country and our flag against all enemies, foreign or domestic.
* The eighth fold is a tribute to those who have entered into the valley of the shadow of death, that they may see the light of day. 
* The ninth fold is a tribute to womanhood; for through their faith, love, loyalty and devotion, characters of the men and women that have made this country great have been molded.  This fold is made in honor of our mothers, for whom the flag flies on Mother's Day.
* The tenth fold is a tribute to the fathers, for they too have given sons and daughters in the defense of our country, ever since the first struggle for independence.
* The eleventh fold, in the eyes of a Hebrew citizen, represents the lower portion of the seal of David and King Solomon, and glorifies in their eyes the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
* The twelfth fold, in the eyes of a Christian citizen, represents an emblem of eternity, and glorifies in their eyes God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.
* The thirteenth fold symbolizes the original colonies.  We fold from the stripes toward the stars; for the stripes represent the thirteen original colonies that founded our republic, they are now embodied in the fifty sovereign states represented by the stars.
* When folded, the stars are uppermost, which reminds us of our national motto, "In God We Trust".
* After the flag is completely folded and tucked in, it takes on the appearance of a three-cornered hat, ever reminding us of the soldiers who served under General George Washington and the sailors who served under  Captain John Paul Jones.
* They who have followed their comrades and shipmates in the armed forces of the United States have preserved for us the rights, privileges, and freedoms which we still enjoy today.  May God continue to bless the United States of America!

Back to top of page

Member NFIB   Member, National Independent Flag Dealers Association