How To Observe Flag Etiquette

As Americans, we're proud to hang our flags in front of our homes. It's not enough to raise and lower them, however. Did you know there is certain protocol to follow when flying a flag? There are actually rules and regulations regarding the American flag, too numerous to delve into here. What follows are some basics that will help you to observe flag etiquette:   

  1. The flag has several parts:
    • The grommet, which are the holes used to tie the flag to a flagpole or other approved hanging method.
    • The Union, the blue part with stars.
    • The Field, the background color of the flag with red and white stripes.
    • The Fly End, the opposite end of the flag from the header. It's farthest away from the flagstaff.
    • The Fly, the flag's bottom, or the length of the flag.
    • The Hoist, the width of the flag or the side of the flag closest to the flagstaff. Hoist is also used to describe the height of a flag when it's flying.

  2. Always hold the flag so that it doesn't touch the ground. Treat the flag with respect and keep it as clean as possible. Keep it folded until the last possible minute so as to avoid dragging it as you walk.
  3. Never hang a flag upside down. Hanging a flag in this manner is a signal of distress.
  4. Flags are not decorations. Never hang on walls or use as draperies, bedspreads or any other type of room adornment. Flags aren't to be draped over hoods of cars or hung in the back windows of pickup trucks, and they shouldn't be used as clothes or even imprinted on clothes.
  5. It's very bad etiquette to use our flag for advertising purposes. While it's becoming more commonplace to see flags in the background of some advertisements, it's especially bad form to print anything on a flag or the image of a flag.
  6. Flags aren't to be imprinted on temporary items such as napkins, paper plates and paper cups. Though there are sets available to be used on the Fourth of July or Memorial Day, it's considered bad etiquette to use disposable items with flags on them.
  7. Flags shouldn't be used as uniforms though a special flag can be sewn to military and other approved uniforms.
  8. Flags should never be worn as costumes.
  9. Flags that have become to worn to mend or too dirty to clean should be burned and never thrown away.
  10. Flags hung on flagpoles should be raised quickly, but lowered in a slow and ceremonious manner. Flags should saluted as they are raised and lowered.
  11. If the flag is hung from a window flagstaff, the union should be at the peak of the staff. The only exception to this should be in the case of mourning, when the flag is flown at half -taff.
  12. If the American flag is being flown from a staff with other flags, the American flag is raised first and lowered last.
  13. If flown over a street such as many towns do during Founder's Day celebrations of patriotic holidays, it should be hung vertically. The Union should hang to the north or to the east.


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