Flag Etiquette:Proper Handling of the American Flag

American Flag EtiquetteThe Amer­i­can flag is the most rec­og­niz­able sym­bol of the United States. It sym­bol­izes our belief in lib­erty and jus­tice for all. It is also a sym­bol for our mil­i­tary and rep­re­sents the fight to pro­tect our free­doms. As such, it is very impor­tant to dis­play, han­dle and care for the flag properly.

Did you know that the dis­play and han­dling of the Amer­i­can flag is cov­ered under fed­eral law? In fact, it is Chap­ter 1 of Title 4 of the United Sates Code. This means you could be cited for improper use of the flag, although it is highly unlikely as the Supreme Court has ruled that the dis­play­ing of the flag is pro­tected by the 1st Amend­ment. Some basic flag eti­quette rules include:

  • The Amer­i­can flag should be taken down before sun­set, unless there is proper light­ing to keep the flag lit.
  • The Amer­i­can flag should not be flown dur­ing bad weather unless you have a spe­cial flag designed to with­stand the weather.
  • The Amer­i­can flag should always be higher than those of the states.
  • If there is more than one flag on the flag post, the Amer­i­can flag should always be on top.
  • If flags of other nations are fly­ing, they should all be on sep­a­rate poles and be at equal height.
  • The Amer­i­can flag should never touch the ground.
  • The Amer­i­can flag should also never be writ­ten on or be worn as cloth­ing. It should not be used in advertising.
  • Amer­i­can flags dis­played on vehi­cles or floats should be on a staff and not draped.
  • When dis­card­ing a worn Amer­i­can flag, it needs to be destroyed in a dig­ni­fied man­ner. The best way to accom­plish this is by burn­ing it. The Boy Scouts con­duct flag burn­ing ceremonies.
  • The Amer­i­can flag should never be flown upside down unless sig­nal­ing an emergency.

Fol­low­ing these guide­lines will keep your flag dis­played properly.