Etiquette for Displaying the U.S. Flag

Memorial Day is coming up in the next few days and many people will be putting the U.S Flag out for display. As a veteran of the Air Force I wanted to take the time explain the proper etiquette for handling and flying the United States Flag for those that may not know.

The etiquette for displaying the U.S. Flag is established by law, in US Code Title 4; Chapter 1; Sec 7 m (1) .

Here are a few things you should know when displaying the U.S. flag on private property:

  • On Memorial Day the flag is flown at half-staff until noon and at full staff from noon to sunset. The flag should be displayed at half staff in mourning the death of principal government leaders or upon presidential or gubernatorial order. The flag shall be flown at half-staff on Peace Officers Memorial Day, unless that day is also Armed Forces Day.

  • Half-staff means the flag is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff.

  • To properly place the flag at half-staff, you should first raise the flag to the top of the staff for a moment and then lower it to half-staff.

  • The custom is to fly the U.S. flag daily from sunrise to sunset. If you would like to display it 24 hours a day, illuminate it at night.

  • When the U.S. flag is displayed on a staff from a window or balcony, the stars should be at the top of the staff unless it is at half-staff. When lowering the flag for the day after it is at half-staff, raise the flag to the top of the pole and lower it.

  • If you are draping the flag out a window or over a building, hang it vertically with the stars to the left of anyone looking at it from below.

  • The U.S. flag should never touch the ground, the floor, water or anything underneath it.

  • If the U.S. flag is displayed on the same pole as another flag, the U.S. flag must be on top.

  • The U.S. flag should be the largest flag on display.

Caring For Your Flag

  • You can wash most outdoor flags in a mild detergent. Rinse thoroughly. Hang it up to dry.

  • If the forecast calls for rain, take your flag down. Rain will cause the colors to fade faster. If your flag gets caught in the rain, take it down and hang it up to dry.

  • Rusting flag poles cause flag problems. The rough metal on the pole will catch the flag and tear the fabric. Rust will also cause permanent stains on your flag and eat holes in the fabric. If you have a lot of rust on your flag pole, think about purchasing a new pole.

For additional information on displaying the U.S. flag, visit

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