Flag etiquette: Here’s how to properly fly an American flag

Flag Day is celebrated on June 14

(AP Photo/Phil Coale, File) (PHIL COALE, AP2001)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – With Memorial Day right around the corner and Flag Day on Tuesday, it’s a good time for a reminder of how to properly handle the American flag.

As these days approach, do you know the right way to display and honor the flag?

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Before we jump right to it, we want to give you some history on the Stars and Stripes. The idea of celebrating the flag is believed to have originated in 1885. It started with a school teacher in Wisconsin who wanted to celebrate what was then the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of the Stars and Stripes. The adoption of the flag of the United States on June 14, 1777, by the resolution of the Second Continental Congress. Now, we recognize Flag Day every June 14.

Here are some of the rules of the code for civilians, according to USA.gov:

  • When displayed with a speaker’s platform, it must be above and behind the speaker. If mounted on a staff it is on the speaker’s right.
  • If you decide to hang the flag vertically on a wall, window or door, the Union (blue section) should be on the onlooker’s left. The same goes if the flag is hung horizontally.
  • The flag shouldn’t be displayed on days when the weather is inclement.
  • It is the universal custom to display the American 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.
  • The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
  • If displayed with other flags, the American flag should be at the center and highest point.
  • During national mourning, a flag should be hung at half-mast.
  • The flag should not touch anything below it, including resting on the ground.
  • When storing the flag, it should be completely dry and folded properly — into a triangle with the Union visible.
  • When the flag becomes damaged or worn out, it should be disposed of with dignity, preferably by burning.
  • If you choose to display the flag on the porch, the Union (blue section) should be placed at the peak of the staff. If it’s against a wall or window, the Union should be at the top left corner. When placed on your vehicle, the staff should be clamped to the right front fender. If it’s being displayed with another flag, it should be placed on your left when crossed.
  • Never use the flag for decoration. Use bunting with the blue on top, then white, then red.

Special Rules: Do not let the flag touch the ground. Do not fly the flag upside down unless there is an emergency. Do not carry the flag flat, or carry things in it. Do not use the flag as clothing. Do not store the flag where it can get dirty. Do not use it as a cover. Do not fasten it or tie it back. Always allow it to fall free. Do not draw on, or otherwise mark the flag.

Click here to read the full code on the American flag. Click here to read more on flag etiquette.

About the Author:

Carianne Luter is a social media producer for News4Jax and has worked at Channel 4 since December 2015. She graduated from the University of North Florida with a communication degree.