Articles

11 ways to properly display Old Glory on Flag Day

On May 30, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson issued "Proclamation 1335" to officially establish June 14 as Flag Day. The holiday commemorates the 1777 adoption of the U.S. flag.


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On June 22, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt approved Resolution 303, which officially outlines the customs and rules governing the display and use of Old Glory by civilians. While the official "Flag Code" explains the flag's use for all situations, the following list is a quick guide for flying your colors now.

Note: This is not the complete Flag Code. Please visit CRS Report for Congress for a complete list of customs and rules governing the display and use of the U.S. Flag. 

1. The union—the blue section with the 50 stars representing the states—should always be north and to the right (the viewer's left).

Photo by Mike Mozart, Flikr

2. The same rule applies if it's hanging vertically.

WASHINGTON (Sept. 11, 2008) The American Flag drapes over the side of the Pentagon signifying where American Airlines flight 77 crashed into the building, killing 59 people aboard the plane and 125 inside the Pentagon in 2001. The flag was draped for a Memorial Dedication Ceremony hosted by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, for those who lost their lives that day. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Molly A. Burgess)

3. The U.S. flag should always be on the right side (the viewer's left) of a crossed flag display. Old Glory's staff must also be in front of the other flag's staff.

Photo by FLAG Program, Flikr

4. When the flags of States, cities, or pennants of societies are flown together in the same halyard, the U.S. flag should always be at the peak. No flag or pennant should be above or to the right (the viewer's left) of the U.S. flag.

State of Wyoming flag flying under the United States Flag. Photo by David Jolley.

5. If the flags are flying from staffs, the U.S. flag should be at the center and highest peak of the group.

Jimmy Carter Library flag display. Photo by Mark Goebel, Flikr.

6. When flying it at half-staff, the flag should be hoisted to the peak for a moment and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should also be raised to the peak before it's lowered for the day. If other flags are present, the U.S. flag is hoisted to the true half-staff position with the other flags slightly below. The U.S. flag must be hoisted first and lowered last.

The American flag on Fort Hood, Texas, rests at half-staff on Nov. 10, 2009, during a memorial ceremony honoring the victims of the Nov. 5, shooting rampage that left 13 dead and 38 wounded. U.S. Army photo

7. When the U.S. flag is flown horizontally at an angle from a window sill, balcony, or structure, the union should be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half-staff.

PEARL HARBOR (April 21, 2013) Quartermaster 3rd Class James Brown III, left, from Minneapolis, and Airman Austin Murphy, from Houston, raise the ensign on the flight deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). The John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group is returning from an eight-month deployment to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleet areas of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Marco Villasana)

8. When it is carried in a procession with another flag, the U.S. flag should be on the marching right. If there's a line of other flags, it should front and center of that line.

The Eglin Air Force Base Honor Guard brings in the colors in the shadow of an MC-130E Combat Talon I during its retirement ceremony April 25 at Duke Field, Fla. Aircrew, maintainers and many others turned out to remember and bid farewell to the aircraft on its official retirement from the Air Force. The last five Talons, located at Duke Field, will be delivered to the "boneyard" at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., by mid-May. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Samuel King Jr.)

9. When the flags of two or more nations are displayed together, they must be flown on separate staffs of the same height and equal in size. International usage forbids a nation's flag above another's during peace time.

The Allée des Nations in front of the Palace of Nations (United Nations Office at Geneva). Photo by MadGeographer.

10. When the flag is displayed from a vehicle, the staff should be fixed to the right fender.

2009 Cadillac Presidential Limousine.

11. The flag must never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, floor, or water.

The I Corps flag detail retired our nation's colors at Joint Base Lewis-McChord on Sept. 28, 2012. I Corps returned a few months ago from its Afghanistan deployment and is shifting its focus to the Pacific Rim. U.S. Army photo by Maj. Johnpaul Arnold

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