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Flag Etiquette

The United States Flag Code, first adopted in 1923, and later amended, prescribes flag etiquette for a variety of situations ensuring our national symbol a position of honor and respect.  The following information is not a complete listing of the Code, but rather a highlight of useful information to educate fellow citizens on proper flag care and etiquette.  We have separated the information into three categories: Display, Folding, and Proper Care. 


From a Window:  From a staff projecting from a window, balcony, or a building, the union should be at the top of the staff or farthest from the window unless the flag is at half-staff.

From a Staff:  Always display the U.S. Flag at the TOP of the staff or furthermost from the window, when the flag is displayed from the same flagpole with another flag of a state, community, society, or organization. 

Over the Street:  Over the street, the flag should be hung vertically, with the union to the north or east.  If the flag is suspended over a sidewalk, the flag's union should be farthest from the building. 

Parades and Reviews: The flag should be in front of the marchers.  At the moment the flag passes in a parade or procession, all persons should show respect by standing at attention facing the flag with their right hands over their hearts.  Persons in uniform should face the flag and render their formal salute.  During a parade it is necessary to salute only the first U.S. Flag.  When other flags are included, the U.S. Flag should be centered in front of the others or carried to their right. 

Saluting: The U.S. Flag is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered.  To salute, all persons not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over their heart and men with head cover hold it to the left shoulder.  The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the flagstaff, or through the last note of the National Anthem, whichever is the longest.  The salute to a flag in a moving column should be rendered the moment the flag passes.  The members of organizations in formation should salute upon command from the person in charge. 

Indoors: When displayed on the floor or on a platform, the flag is given the place of honors, always positioned behind the speaker and to the speaker's right, with other flags, if any, at the speaker's left.   


The Flag in Mourning:  To place the flag at half-staff, first hoist it to the TOP of the pole for an instant and then, in respect for the deceased, lower it to a position halfway between the top and bottom of the staff.  Before lowering it again at day's end, the flag is to be raised again for a moment to the peak of the pole. 

Retiring the Flag:  The Flag Code states that when a flag has served its useful purpose, or is so worn out that it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning.  Flag retirement ceremonies should be done in private. 

The Flag should always be treated with the utmost care and respect.  The Flag Code contains specific instructions on how the flag is NOT to be used:

  • The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing.  It is flown upside down only as a distress signal. 
  • The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying or delivering anything. 
  • When the flag is lowered no part of it should touch the ground or any other object.
  • The flag should never be used for advertising purposes or printed on items designed for temporary use and discard.  It should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform.


  • PROPER FOLDING (see diagram on right panel)

Step 1:  Two people face each other, each of them holding one end of the flag.  Stretch it horizontally at waist height and fold it in half lengthwise with the stripes facing up and the blue field facing down. 

Step 2:  Fold the flag in half length-wise again.  The union (blue field) should be showing on both sides of the fold. 

Step 3:  One person holds the flag by the union while the other starts at the opposite end by making triangular folds. 

Step 4:  Continue the diagonal or triangular folding toward the blue union until the end is reached, with only the blue showing on both sides and the form resembling that of a three-corner hat or a triangle.   








In 1892 Francis Bellamy wrote,

in a single sitting, the Pledge of Allegiance

which became a school room tradition. 

(First graders of Tomball, Texas reciting the Pledge in 1945)