It's that time of year… time to proudly put up your American flag. I'll bet you've already done it, but are you doing it right? Here's a review of all of the American flag etiquette, rules, and customs you should know to respectfully display the flag.
American Flag Etiquette: how to honor and care for a United States Flag
You CAN leave your flag outside in bad weather IF it is an ALL WEATHER flag, which means it was manufactured to withstand all weather types.
Always make sure your American flag does not touch the ground or anything underneath it and always handle your flag with respect.
There are special days when the flag is flown at half staff. For more information on half staff flying check out these easy to follow instructions on the Home of Heroes website.
How to Properly Display an American Flag
Hanging a flag against a wall
You can hang your U.S. flag against a wall either horizontally or vertically. If you choose to do this, make sure that the Union (the blue part with the stars) is to the observer's left. When displayed in a window, the Union is to the left of the observer when viewed at from the street. I noticed a violation of this code on a house when I was out running errands today.
Hanging a flag at night
The U.S. flag is to be displayed from sunrise to sunset. The American flag CAN be displayed outside overnight IF properly lighted.
Hanging a flag with other flags
If you are displaying your U.S flag on the same pole as a state, city, municipality or organization flag, the U.S flag is always on the top. If using separate poles and you have a group these flags, the U.S flag is displayed at the highest point and at the center. If 2 flags are being displayed on separate poles, they are at the same level and the U.S flag is always at the place of honor to the observers extreme left. The U.S flag is always hoisted first and lowered last.
If you are displaying your U.S flag with a flag of another country, they must be on separate poles at the same level. Flags should be approximately the same size. International usage forbids the display of one nations flag over another during time of peace. I happened to notice this morning that my neighbor is in violation of this one. Sorry Canada, I am sure he is not declaring war!
What to do with a damaged flag
An American flag that is ruined beyond repair is to be destroyed in an honorable way, preferably by burning. It is NOT recommended to burn the flag in your own fire pit as dangerous chemicals can be emitted from burning flags. Not to mention your neighbors could call the police on you claiming you're a terrorist! A better option is to contact your local American Legion, Boy Scout Troop or Girl Scout Troop who will gladly take your flag for proper disposal.
More flag rules to honor the American Flag
If you want to learn more about the U.S. Flag Code, and notice violations everywhere (like me), you can check out this Flag Code description where I acquired the flag rules in this post.
Your American flag is made in America, right?
Look for flag manufacturers that are members of the Flag Manufacturers Association of America which established the “Certified Made in the U.S.A” certification program of American Flags. According to the FMAA website, ” ‘Certified Made in the U.S.A. ‘ certifies that your American flag has been made in the U.S. of materials that are domestic in origin and that all processes in every step of its manufacture were completed in U.S. facilities with U.S. labor”.
Some American made flag makers we've recommended before on our Flag Day Guide are Annin and Valley Forge Flag. Be sure to check labels before purchasing and be aware that it is especially hard to find flag hardware made in the USA, but we've listed a couple of options for you below.
We are working on a new Ultimate Source List for American flags and flag hardware, so if you spot a source we should know about, please add it in the comments below or email us to let us know.