FlagEvery American should know basic flag etiquette: the rules for displaying and honoring our nation’s most visible symbol. Even if you don’t serve in the military or have a flag pole outside your house, you should know these guidelines.

On the flag pole:

-If you do not take your flag down after sunset, your flag pole should be equipped with lights that illuminate the flag. If bad weather is coming, whether it’s day or night, the flag should be taken down.

-When you raise the flag, do it quickly. Taking it down, however, is done slowly. And when you raise the flag, double-check the pole rope to make sure that it’s tied securely. You don’t want a runaway flag.

-Almost every state flag should be flown lower than the American flag. Your American flag should also be larger than any other flags you display.

-Don’t let the flag touch the ground, ever, for any reason.

When flying at half-staff:

-Flying the flag at half-staff is a sign that the flag, and the nation it represents, are mourning. When you see a flag at half-mast, it’s usually because an important person has died. Important dates such as Memorial Day are also remembered by half-staff flags.

-To fly the flag at half-staff, you first raise the flag all the way to the top of the pole and bring it down to half-mast a moment later. You repeat the process when the flag comes down.


-When you hang the flag on a wall, the stars should be on the flag’s own right. That would be your left.

-The flag should be placed to the right of speakers, podiums, etc.

-Don’t use the flag as a decorative topping for a desk or podium.

Other important things to know:

-Flags are draped over coffins of military personnel. These flags are laid on the coffins so that the battlefield is over the deceased person’s left shoulder.

-The American flag does not advertise for anybody or anything. You should never write or otherwise affix any lettering or symbols to the flag or its staff.

-Flags with gold fringe are for indoor use only. If they’re used outdoors, the fringe “ which is considered part of the flag “ quickly deteriorates and fades.

-The only proper way to include the flag on a uniform is by affixing a patch to the clothing.

-When you take down the flag, you should fold it neatly. You don’t have to know the œmilitary triangle fold that is used at funerals: any neat folding is acceptable. If you don’t know how to œtriangle fold the American flag, do an Internet search: you’ll find plenty of sites, many with illustrations or pictures, to show you how it’s done.

-Service members salute the flag the same way that they saluted in Basic Training and the rest of their military careers. The civilian version is to stand up straight, remove headgear, and hold one hand over the heart.

-When the National Anthem is being played live, such as at a sporting event, everyone should be as silent as possible. Nobody should whisper to their friends, comment on the game that is about to begin, or move around.

-Flag Day is June 14.

And finally:

-When your flag is worn, faded and frayed, you should take it down and give it to your local Scout troop or American Legion. These organizations respectfully burn the flags.

Some might think that all of these rules are meaningless, but many people consider the flag to be a representative of our nation. Treating our symbols with respect is a gesture of respect to everyone who serves under, or for, the country that the flag represents.