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Displaying Our Flag

The laws and customs for the proper display of the flag of the United States

General Display

It is correct to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings or stationary flagstaffs outdoors. However, when a patriotic effect is desired the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

  • Either horizontally or vertically against a wall or in a window - The union must be uppermost and to the flag's own right (the observer's left). (Fig. 1)
  • No other flag or pennant should be placed above, or if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the U.S., except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea for Navy personnel. Only then may the church pennant be flown above the flag.

    No person may display the flag of the U.S. or any other national or international flag equal, above or in a position of superior prominence or in place of the flag of the U.S. at any place within the U.S. or any territory or possession thereof. However, the flag of the United Nations may be shown 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 U.S. only at the headquarters of the United Nations.

  • With the flags of states, cities, localities or pennants of societies
    • When other flags are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the U.S. the latter must always be at the peak. (Fig. 2)
    • When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs the flag of the U.S. must be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above or to the right of the flag of the U.S. (Fig. 3)
    • When displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs the flag of the U.S. must be on the flag's own right and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag. (Fig. 4)
    • The flag of the U.S. must be a the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of states, localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs. (Fig. 5)
  • With flags of one or more other nations - All flags must be flown from separate staffs of the same height. All flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another national in time of peace. (Fig. 6)

Churches and Auditoriums

When used on a speaker's platform and displayed flat the U.S. flag must be above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium the flag must hold the position of superior prominence - in advance of the audience and in the position of honor at the speaker's right as he faces the audience. Any other flag displayed must be placed on the left of the speaker or the right of the audience. (Fig. 7)

At Half-Staff

When flown at half-staff the flag must be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag must be raised again to the peak before it is lowered for the day.

How to Fold Our Flag

Folding the flag Fold the flag in half width-wise and in half again. Fold up a triangle starting at the striped end and repeat until only the end of the union is exposed. Then fold down the square into a triangle and tuck inside the folds.

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