Flag Day is Friday, June 14, so here is a refresher course with the rules and guidelines for displaying the American flag. These guidelines came out of the U.S. Flag Code passed by Congress in 1942.
U.S. Flag Do’s and Don’ts
- When the U.S. Flag is brought into a stadium, passing in a parade or being hoisted or lowered, members of the armed services and veterans are asked to stand at attention and salute; civilians should stand and place their right hand over their heart.
- The flag should not be displayed on rainy or snowy days unless it’s an all-weather flag.
- The custom is to display the flag from sunrise to sunset on flagpoles. The flag may be displayed at night if it is illuminated.
- There are several holidays where you should display your flag. Here is a list of the flag holidays.
- When displayed on a flagpole with another flag, the U.S. flag should always be placed at the top.
- When on display, the flag is accorded the place of honor, always positioned to its own right. Place it to the right of the speaker or staging area or sanctuary. Other flags should be to the left.
- When the flag is hung vertically on a wall, window, or door, the Union (blue section) should be to the observer’s left. When the flag is hung either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the Union should be to the observer’s left.
- When displayed over a street, the flag should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street, or to the east in a north and south street.
- When the flag is used to cover a casket, the union should be at the head and over the left shoulder.
- The flag is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
- The flag should not be used as a drapery, or to cover a speaker’s desk, draped over a platform, or for any decoration in general.
- The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered or printed on items such as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use.
- The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, firefighter, police officer, and members of patriotic organizations.
- When hoisting and lowering the flag, it should be raised briskly and lowered ceremoniously. When flying at half-staff, the flag should be raised to the top and then slowly lowered to half-staff. There are timelines for how long the flag should be flown at half-staff here on the death of U.S. officials.
- When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
- The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.
- When a flag is worn or torn, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner.
Note: Most American Legion Posts regularly conduct a dignified flag burning ceremony, often on Flag Day. Many Cub Scout Packs, Boy Scout Troops, and Girl Scout Troops retire flags regularly as well. Contact your local American Legion Hall or Scout Troop to inquire about the availability of this service.