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How to practice national flag etiquette

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How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

The date 2009 IJSBA Parade of Nations is coming upon us quickly. Here is some information that may help you understand the flag ettiquette of your country and others.

Have you ever wondered how national flags are displayed correctly? This article provides a general overview of flag etiquette. It is important to note that the policies, traditions, customs, rules and laws of your country or those of other countries pertaining to flag etiquette may differ from those provided in this article.

Fly the flag from sunrise to sunset on a clear day. National flags should not be flown in bad weather (e.g. during thunderstorms or hailstorms)unless it is an all-weather flag. If a national flag is flown at night it should be brightly illuminated

Hoist (raise) the flag in a brisk fashion and lower it in a dignified, ceremonious way.

Flags flown at half-mast should be hoisted to full mast then lowered slowly and ceremoniously to half-mast.

Never let a national flag touch the ground, water or the floor.

Display a national flag in a position superior to all other flags (such as state or provincial flags) except when flags of other countries are displayed (such as at the United Nations or during the Olympic Games).

Flags of the World When flags of multiple countries are flown in the same place, they must all be displayed as equals. They should each be flown on individual flagpoles each of the same size. All of the flags must be the same size and no flag can be bigger or smaller than another flag. National flags of multiple countries should be arranged in alphabetical order.

When two flags are displayed (in a line); the national flag should appear on the left side when viewed by an observer.

When three flags are displayed in a line the national flag should be in the middle (i.e. the second flag).

When four flags are displayed in a line, the national flag should be the first flag on the left when viewed by an observer.

When five or more flags are displayed in a line, two national flags should appear at both ends of the line (e.g. in a line of five flags, the national flag should appear as the first flag and the fifth flag).

When a flag is no longer in good condition (e.g. if it is torn, ripped or badly soiled) it should not be raised or displayed. It should be disposed of in a dignified way (such as a private burning. See this article for an example of the correct procedure).

Always respect the customs and traditions of different countries regarding their national flags. For example, Saudi Arabia, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have all clearly prohibited their national flags from being displayed vertically (e.g. when hung from a wire or mounted to a wall). Never display the national flags of those countries in a vertical position.

This is a general guide only. Policies, rules, laws, traditions and customs of your country or other countries may differ from the information contained in this article. If in doubt, always consult your government or another official authority about the appropriate display of your country’s national flag.

Summer calls for opening the cottage, sitting on the dock and raising your flag.

But how do you properly display the national flag?

In Part I we highlighted national flag Do’s and Don’ts, but there’s still more to cover!

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

The following National Flag of Canada etiquette has been adapted from the Government of Canada website.

Configurations

How do you display your Canadian flag respectfully alongside your other flags? Read to learn how to hang your flag with pride and dignity.

The flag configurations described below also apply when the National Flag of Canada is flown with one or more flags of the provinces and territories.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

Two Flags

With the flag of one other nation, the National Flag of Canada should be on the left of the observer facing the flags; both should be at the same height.

Crossed Flags

When crossed with a flag of another sovereign nation, the National Flag of Canada should be on the left of the observer facing the flags; the flagpole bearing the National Flag of Canada should be in front of the pole of the other flag.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

Three Flags

In a line of three flags, the National Flag of Canada should be in the centre. The other two flags should, in alphabetical order, be placed to the left and right of the National Flag respectively (from the point of view of the observer facing the three flagpoles/masts).

Semi-circle

In a semi-circle of flags representing a number of sovereign nations, the National Flag of Canada should be in the centre.

Enclosed Circle

In an enclosed circle of flags representing a number of sovereign nations, the National Flag of Canada should be flown on the flagpole/mast immediately opposite the main entrance to a building or arena.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

A combination of flags of sovereign nations, provinces, territories and organizations

In keeping with previously outlined practice, the National Flag of Canada, when flown with different types of flags, should be flown on the left of an observer facing the flags. The position of the other flags is determined by order of precedence, which is also covered in Part I.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

Oh Canada

When provincial and territorial flags are flown with the National Flag of Canada, the order is based on the date of entry into Confederation of the provinces followed by the territories. In a grouping of flags that includes the National Flag of Canada and all of the flags of the provinces and territories, the order of precedence is:

  • National Flag of Canada
  • Ontario (1867)
  • Quebec (1867)
  • Nova Scotia (1867)
  • New Brunswick (1867)
  • Manitoba (1870)
  • British Columbia (1871)
  • Prince Edward Island (1873)
  • Saskatchewan (1905)
  • Alberta (1905)
  • Newfoundland (1949)
  • Northwest Territories (1870)
  • Yukon (1898)
  • Nunavut (1999)

More than Three Flags

When displays include more than three flagpoles/masts, the National Flag of Canada should be flown on the left of the observer facing the flags, followed by the flags of the provinces and territories. An additional National Flag of Canada may be displayed at the end of the line if desired.

There you have it, now you’re ready to hang your national flag alongside your other flags with confidence!

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1. When would it be best to take the flag down from the flagpole?

2. Which one of these people would most likely salute the flag?

About This Quiz & Worksheet

For this quiz and worksheet combination, you are focusing on the etiquette surrounding the American flag. Questions will ask about why etiquette is important, as well as the time when the flag would most likely be flown at half-staff.

Quiz & Worksheet Goals

You can find the following topics on this quiz:

  • When to take the flag down
  • People most likely to salute the flag
  • A place you should never let the flag touch
  • When the flag should be flown at half-staff

Skills Practiced

  • Information recall – remember what you have learned about where the flag should not touch
  • Knowledge application – use what you know to answer questions about who would salute the flag
  • Defining key concepts – ensure that you can explain what etiquette is and its importance

Additional Learning

To learn more, check out the lesson titled Flag Etiquette: Lesson for Kids. With it, you can read about the following other topics:

  • Placing the flag
  • Others who might salute the flag such as police and military
  • What else you should not do with the flag

Do you have a Canadian flag sitting in your garage waiting to fly in the wind?

Maybe you’re worried you’ll make a flag faux-pas or disrespect your nation?

You’re right to be cautious, because when the National Flag of Canada or other provincial or territorial flags are displayed, proper consideration and etiquette should be maintained.

The following National Flag of Canada etiquette is adapted from the Government of Canada website.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

The Don’ts

Let’s start with the Dont’s.

According to the Government of Canada, the National Flag of Canada, whether it be a cloth, paper or made of some other fabric or material, should never:

  • Be used as a tablecloth or seat cover;
  • Be used as a masking for boxes, covering a speaker’s podium, draping a platform, as a barrier on a stage or platform, or in general for any decoration;
  • Be used to cover a statue, monument or plaque for an unveiling ceremony;
  • Have anything pinned to or sewn onto it;
  • Be signed or marked in any way (A border could be attached to its outside edge, which can be marked while leaving the Flag itself untouched.);
  • Be used as wearing apparel;
  • Be flown in a discoloured or tattered condition;
  • Be burned in effigy;
  • Touch the ground;
  • Be stepped on;
  • Be flown upside down (except as a signal of distress in instances of extreme danger to life);
  • Be dipped or lowered to the ground as a means of paying a salute or compliment to any person or thing.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

The Do’s

Here’s the low-down on how to display your Canadian Flag.

On a flagpole or mast

The top left (first) quarter or canton should be placed in the position nearest the top of the flagpole or mast. When carried, the Flag should be respected.

On a flag rope (halyard)

The canton should be raised as closely as possible to the top with the flag rope tight.

Flat against a surface, horizontally and vertically

If hung horizontally, the upper part of the leaf (the points of the leaf) should be up and the stem down. If hung vertically, the flag should be placed so that the upper part of the leaf points to the left and the stem to the right from the point of view of the observer facing the Flag. Flags hung vertically should be hung so that the canton is in the upper left corner.

Flag Fact: When a flag is affixed to a motor vehicle the flag must be on a pole firmly fixed to the frame of the car on the front right.

Precedence

  • The National Flag of Canada
  • The flags of other sovereign nations in alphabetical order (if applicable)
  • The flags of the provinces of Canada (in the order in which they joined Confederation)
  • The flags of the territories of Canada (in the order in which they joined Confederation)
  • The flags of municipalities/cities
  • Banners of organizations
  • Historical flags

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

However, the following flags take precedence over the National Flag on buildings where one of the dignitaries are in residence or where they are attending a function:

  • Her Majesty’s Personal Canadian Flag;
  • the standards of members of the Royal Family;
  • the standard of the Governor General; and
  • the standard of the Lieutenant Governor (in his or her province of jurisdiction and when assuming the duties of the representative of the Queen).

Flag tip: If you want to use the flags as decorations, it is recommended that you use pennants or coloured buntings, and not actual flags.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

Flying Solo

When the National Flag of Canada is flown alone on top or in front of a building where there are two flagpoles, it should be flown on the flagpole to the left (to an observer facing the flag).

Flag Tip: When the National Flag of Canada is flown alone on top or in front of a building where there are more than two flagpoles, it should be flown as near as possible to the centre.

When the National Flag of Canada is displayed in a place of worship or on a speaker’s platform, it should be against the wall, or on a flagpole on the left (from the point of view of the audience).

When used in the body of a place of worship or auditorium, the National Flag of Canada should be to the right of the congregation or spectators facing the Flag.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

Flying with Sovereign Nations

When flown or paraded, the National Flag of Canada takes priority over all other national flags.

Flag Tip: When flown with the flags of other sovereign nations, all flags should be flown on separate flag poles and at the same height, all being the same size, with the National Flag of Canada in the position of honour.

The National Flag should be raised first and lowered last, unless the number of flags permits their being raised and lowered at the same time.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

There you have it, now you’re ready to hang your flag with confidence!

To purchase your own flag pole and Canadian flag visit our website.

Next month, we’ll share more National Flag Etiquette in Part II.

For more information visit the Government of Canada’s guidelines for the National Flag of Canada Etiquette.

FLAG ETIQUETTE

General Flag Display

It is the universal custom to display the American flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.

1. When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left. When displayed in a window, the American flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street. No other flag or pennant should be placed above, or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea…for personnel of the Navy…when the church pennant may be flown above the flag.
No person shall display the flag of the United Nations of any other national of international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States at any place within the United States or any Territory of possession thereof; provided, that nothing in this section shall make unlawful the continuance of the practice heretofore followed of displaying the flag of the United Nations in a positions of equal prominence of honor, and other national flags in positions of equal prominence or honor, with that of the flag of the United States at the headquarters of the United Nations.

2 OTHER FLAGS ON SAME HALYARD – When flags of states, cities, or localities, or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the US flag, the US flag should always be at the peak. When the flags are flown from adjacent flagpoles, the US flag should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the US flag, or to the right of the US flag

How to Practice National Flag EtiquetteHow to Practice National Flag Etiquette

3. When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the American flag should be jousted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the United States or to the right of the United States flag.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

4. The American flag, when it is displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the right, the flag’s own right, and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

5. When flags of two of more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

6.When used on a speaker’s platform, the flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman’s of speaker’s right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker of the right of the audience.

Half-Staff
We provide an email alert service of when to fly your American flag at half mast.

The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.
Days the American flag should be flown at half-staff:

  • May 15th – Peace Officers Memorial Day
  • Last Monday in May – Memorial Day (half-staff until noon only, then raise to the top of the staff)
  • July 27th – Korean War Veterans Armistice Day
  • September 11th – Patriot Day
  • December 7th – Pearl Harbor Day

By order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of the State, territory or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory.
In the event of the death of other officials of foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to presidential instructions of orders, or in accordance with recognized customs practices not inconsistent with law. In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory or possession of the United States, the Governor of that State, territory or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff.
Flags flown on poles affixed to a home or building are not to be flown at half staff but a memorial streamer can be affixed to the top of the flagpole to signify half staff.

7. CASKET – When the flag is used to cover a casket, the union (blue field of stars) is at the head and over the left shoulder (of the deceased). The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.

8. OVER A STREET – When the flag is displayed over the middle of the street, it should be suspended vertically with the union (blue field of stars) to the north over an east-west street, or to the east over a north-south street.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

The U.S. Flag Code formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which we give respect to the flag, also contains specific instructions on how the flag is not to be used.

The following is a list of do’s and don’ts associated with Old Glory, the U.S. Flag.

When displaying the flag, DO the following:

  • Display the U.S. flag from sunrise to sunset on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in the open. When a patriotic effect is desired the flag may be displayed 24-hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
  • When placed on a single staff or lanyard, place the U.S. Flag above all other flags.
  • When flags are displayed in a row, the U.S. flag goes to the observer’s left. Flags of other nations are flown at same height. State and local flags are traditionally flown lower.
  • When used during a marching ceremony or parade with other flags, the U.S. Flag will be to the observer’s left.
  • On special days, the flag may be flown at half-staff. On Memorial Day it is flown at half-staff until noon and then raised.
  • When flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. By “half-staff” is meant lowering the flag to one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff.
  • When the flag is displayed over the middle of the street, it should be suspended vertically with the union (blue field of stars) to the north in an east and west street or to the east in a north and south street.
  • When placed on a podium the flag should be placed on the speaker’s right or the staging area. Other flags should be placed to the left.
  • When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall (or other flat surface), the union (blue field of stars) should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left.
  • When displayed in a window it should be displayed in the same way — with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.
  • When the flag is displayed on a car, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.
  • When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.

When saluting the flag DO the following:

  • All persons present in uniform (military, police, fire, etc.) should render the military salute. Members of the armed forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render the military salute.
  • All other persons present should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.

When stowing or disposing of the flag, DO the following:

  • Fold in the traditional triangle for stowage, never wadded up.
  • The flag should be folded in its customary manner.
  • It is important that the fire be fairly large and of sufficient intensity to ensure complete burning of the flag.
  • Place the flag on the fire.
  • The individual(s) can come to attention, salute the flag, recite the Pledge of Allegiance and have a brief period of silent reflection.
  • After the flag is completely consumed, the fire should then be safely extinguished and the ashes buried.
  • Please make sure you are conforming to local/state fire codes or ordinances.

Quick list of Flag Etiquette Don’ts:

Handling & Care

Proper care is respect. Learn how to care for the Flag. Appropriate flag etiquette is the responsibility of every American.

The American Flag is a living symbol of our great nation. Its care is essential to honoring our country’s past, present and future. Below, we show you how to properly treat your Flag.

Ask us the questions you have about the flag.

  • Respecting The Flag
  • The Flag & Sporting Events
  • General Care
  • When to Dispose of the Flag
  • How To Display The Flag
  • Folding The Flag
  • The Flag In Mourning
  • Holiday Guide To The Flag

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Flag etiquette for kids is one of the unique skills that should be one of life skills for teens that you work on this year.

When I was a kid we always had a United States flag flying at our house. The flag, and all it stands for, has always been very important to my dad. As we would raise the flag together, my dad would share what the flag meant to him along with tips for how to properly care for the flag.

Over the years I have been proud to pass this information along to my own children. We display the flag on holidays and special occasions. And, in our history lessons, we have reviewed flag etiquette and practiced the proper procedures for handling and folding the flag.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

During a recent visit to Washington DC we even planned our first stop around the flag – we visited the Smithsonian National Museum of American History to see The Star-Spangled Banner exhibit and learn more about the 200 year old flag that inspired Francis Scott Key.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

Flag Etiquette All Kids Should Know

It is important to share our country’s customs and national symbols with children of all ages. One of my favorite resources for flag etiquette is the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Celebrating Americas Freedoms site.

Here you will find the following printable documents to share with your family:

  • Correct Method of Folding the United States Flag
  • Flying the American Flag at Half Staff
  • Guidelines for Display of the Flag
  • Old Glory
  • Origins of Flag Day
  • Pledge of Allegiance
  • Star-Spangled Banner
  • The United States Flag

If your middle or high school students would like to read something closer to original source material, be sure to share The United States Flag: Federal Law Relating to Display and Associated Questions. This report includes the United States “Flag Code”.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

Flag Etiquette in Practice

Summer is a great time to celebrate the American flag with your children!

If you don’t already own one, purchase an American flag and teach your children how to properly handle and fold the flag.

Then, help them find a special place in your home to proudly display the flag.

You can also pick up a few books about the flag to help your kids can learn all about this national symbol.

Attend a special event in your community to celebrate Flag Day or July 4 th and notice all of the flags on display.

Listen to music about the flag – one of our favorite places to hear patriotic music is with the Voices of Liberty at The American Adventure Pavilion at Epcot.

This guide explains the respectful etiquette of flying National Flags in the United Kingdom. UK flag protocol relates to its superior position while it flies aloft and blows free.

FLAG FLYING ETIQUETTE: All flags, including the Union Flag and those of England, Scotland, and Wales, should always be displayed in a manner which is befitting of the country’s national emblem.

Improper Use of National Flags

National Flags should never be treated with indignity. They should always be flown without inferiority to any other flag.

This conforms to the proper flag etiquette while aloft and waving free without interference.

Displaying any of the National Flags as a mask to cover cartons, boxes, or barriers is improper and disrespectful. Large banners should not be used to drape over a table or seat cover.

The same protocol applies to bridging the space between floor and ground level on a dais (low stage), platform, or podium.

The flags of England, Scotland, and Wales should not be used to cover a monument or large statue, as a rule. Shrouding a plaque before an unveiling ceremony is bad practice at the least, and horribly distasteful at the worst.

Proper flag flying etiquette in the United Kingdom means they should always be flown in good condition. In other words, avoid flying them in a dilapidated or damaged state.

Always replace soiled representations. This shows the uttermost respect for each nation’s dignitaries and its citizens.

Flag Etiquette UK

UK flag flying rules regulate when, and how, you fly flags in the United Kingdom.

  • As a rule, flags should be flown between the hours of sunrise and sunset.
  • Flags should have appropriate illumination (better by spotlight) at all times if they get displayed at night.
  • No permission is usually required to fly the National Flags and they have explicit exclusion from planning regulations.
  • Nonetheless, flagpole permission is not always excluded from council planning rules in the United Kingdom.

Position of Honour

Due precedence and consideration should always go to flag flying etiquette and protocol in the United Kingdom. This is even more so for any display of the UK’s National Flags (or sovereign national flags).

There are times when the aim of your presentation will be for decoration only. In this case, it may be more appropriate to confine the display to flags of lesser status. Examples could include pennants, buntings, or coloured house flags.

Precedence of Flags in the United Kingdom

The accepted order of precedence of flags in the United Kingdom is:

  1. How to Practice National Flag EtiquetteRoyal Standards
  2. The Union Jack Flag (flown the correct way up)
  3. The Constituent National Flag of the home
    country (England, Scotland, or Wales)
  4. Flags of other nations (in English alphabetical order)
  5. The flag of the European Union
  6. Flags of counties
  7. Flags of cities or towns
  8. Banners of arms
  9. House flags

International Flag Flying Protocol

All international flags should have the same width when National Flags are flown with those of other nations. The classification of this is the measurement from top to bottom. Each flag should fly from a separate flagpole. It is very important that all the flagpoles are of the same height.

International flag flying protocol prohibits the flying of any nation’s flag higher than another in peacetime. The exception would be for medal ceremonies during sporting events. Square shaped flags can have a larger width (up to 125%) to balance the equal surface area.

As a rule, the most senior National Flag should get raised first and lowered last. The exception could be whereby they can all get raised and lowered at the same time.

Flying the British Flag Protocol

In general, all flags should get raised briskly and without delay. When they get lowered it should take place in a ceremonious fashion.

A typical British flag flying tradition is to hoist it while rolled and tied off with a thin piece of cotton. Then, tugging sharply on the slip knot (halyard) breaks the cotton and releases the flag.

The freeing technique is officially referred to as ‘breaking the flag‘. It is a common practice used to symbolize the beginning of a ceremonious event. Breaking the flag also occurs as a mark of respect for the arrival of a VIP or international dignitary.

British Flag Etiquette and Protocols in the United Kingdom
Last Updated 2020

Handling & Care

Displaying your Flag in a respectful manner is an important factor in honoring its symbolism. There are several situations to keep in mind when putting your Flag on display.

Indoor Display

Speaking Engagements:
When on display, the flag is accorded the place of honor, always positioned to its own right. Place it to the right of the speaker or staging area or sanctuary. Other flags should be to the left.

Flagpoles:
The Flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of states, localities or societies are grouped for display.

Crossed:
When one other flag is used with the Flag of the United States of America and the staffs are crossed, the flag of the United States is placed on its own right (observer’s left) with its staff in front of the other flag.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

Wall Display:
When displaying the flag against a wall, vertically or horizontally, the flag’s union (stars) should be at the top, to the flag’s own right and the observer’s left.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

Outdoor Display

Staff:
When the Flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a window, balcony or a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff unless the Flag is at half staff.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

When it is displayed from the same flagpole with another flag—of a state, community, society or Scout unit—the flag of the United States must always be at the top expect that the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for Navy personnel when conducted by a Naval chaplain on a ship at sea.

Street:
When the Flag is displayed over a street, it 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.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

With other flags:
When flown with flags of states, communities or societies on separate flag poles which are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor—to its own right (observer’s left).

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

Note: the other flags may be smaller, but none may be larger. No other flag should ever be placed above it. The Flag of the United States of America is always the first flag raised and the last to be lowered.

When flown with the national banner of other countries, each flag must be displayed from a separate pole of the same height. Each flag should be the same size. They should be raised and lowered simultaneously. The flag of one nation may not be displayed above that of another nation.

Raising and Lowering of the Flag:
The Flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously. Ordinarily it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

The Flag of the United States of America is saluted as it is hoisted or lowered. The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of music, whichever is the longest.

How to follow National Anthem Etiquette – What to do when someone is singing the Star Spangled Banner

Do you know how to follow National Anthem etiquette? What are you really supposed to do while someone is singing the Star Spangled Banner? Many people don’t follow flag etiquette procedure – Make sure you don’t fall in that bucket!

The United States Flag Code is a set of guidelines that lays forth proper American Flag etiquette for just about every scenario you can think of, including how to act during the singing of the National Anthem. Specifically we’ll look at Title 36 of the US Flag Code, Section 301.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

Proper conduct during a rendition of the National Anthem, when the US flag is displayed:

  • Everyone present, except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the American flag with the right hand placed over the heart.
  • Those not in uniform should always remove their headdress (or anything on their head, such as a hat) and hold it at their left shoulder, with their right hand still over their heart.
  • Men and women in uniform should give the military salute at the very beginning of the anthem and hold the position until the very end.

But what about if the National Anthem is being played but the US flag isn’t being displayed? If this is the case, then everyone should face toward the music and still follow the guidelines listed above, as if a flag were flying.

One of the most common places the National Anthem is sung is at sporting events – football, baseball, hockey, basketball, soccer games, etc. All the above rules apply while listening to the Star Spangled Banner as those various games. However, there are several other events where it’s critical to follow National Anthem Etiquette.

How familiar are you with the lyrics to the National Anthem, also known as the Star Spangled Banner? Here is a refresher on National Anthem Lyrics and some history behind the historic song.

Q: Chinese Flag Etiquette?

I was showing photos of my visit to America to a Chinese friend, and he was surprised that private individuals were flying the U.S. flag in front of their homes. He told me that it was illegal in China to do this (obviously, with the Chinese flag). Realizing that most Chinese citizens live in high-rises, I’ve never seen it in the countryside where free standing houses are more common.

Afterwards, I started looking around, and have only seen the Chinese flag flying in front of government buildings, schools, and some businesses. Sometimes, I’ll see it on top of the ever present construction cranes that form most of the skyline in my city.

Does anyone know the legality of private display of the Chinese national flag? How about indoors? I’d like to put one up in my classroom.

Emperor

Chinese Flag Etiquette

Chinese Flag etiquette is very strict and is is essential that Flag protocols and rules are followed correctly


The United Nations etiquette is as follows
:

uses alphabetical order when presenting a national flag including the Chinese Flag. Their flag etiquette ensures that no one country’s flag has precedence over another country’s flag.

The National flag of Chinese should never be flown above another national flag on the same staff as this would suggest superiority, or conversely, inferiority of one flag, or Nation, over another.

The Chinese flag should never be allowed to drag along the ground

Chinese Flag Etiquette

Chinese Flag etiquette is very strict and is is essential that Flag protocols and rules are followed correctly

Flag Etiquette applies to all nations, including Chinese as follows:

Etiquette relating to the order of precedence for the flag

National Flag of China

State or Provinces’ Flag of China

Military Flag of Chinese (in order of creation date)

Other Flag of China’s origen

National flag of Chinese should never be flown above another national flag on the same staff as this would suggest superiority, or conversely, inferiority of one flag, or Nation, over another

The Chinese flag should never be allowed to drag along the ground

A tattered or faded flag of Chinese should be removed and replaced with a new flag

Due care and consideration must be taken to ensure that the Chinese flag is always flown the correct way up

A Flag of China, when in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem of display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning in private with all due care and respect.

Etiquette in Chinese Flag display :

Hoist – the act or function of raising the Chinese flag, as on a rope

Half Staff or Half Mast – the Chinese flag is hoisted to half of the potential height of the flag pole to denote grief and mourning. Performed by first raising the Chinese flag to the top, then lowering the Chinese Flag halfway.

Distress – denoted by flying the Chinese flag upside-down

Manner of hoisting :

– The Chinese flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously

-No disrespect should be shown to the Chinese flag.

-The Chinese flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit the Flag to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

-The Chinese flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing on the flag of any nature.

-The Chinese Flag should be hoisted first and lowered last.

-International Flag relating to Chinese Flag usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace

I have another question. In the States, as a civilian, I place my hand over my heart during the National Anthem. What would be the correct way for a foreigner in China? Do we just stand up respectfully, hands to our sides?

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

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What is Etiquette?

Did someone teach you table manners at some point in your life? If so, they probably taught you to do things such as chew with your mouth closed, put your napkin in your lap and keep your elbows off the table.

This is known as etiquette, which is a set of rules or behaviors that are considered polite. Etiquette isn’t just found at the dinner table, though. It is found in many areas of our lives, including when we are near the United States flag.

Just like the dinner table, flag etiquette is put into place to be polite and to show respect for the flag. This shows patriotism and is evidence that you are proud of your country. Protocols and procedures that show flag etiquette are outlined in the U.S. Flag Code.

Flag Placement

There are many rules about how a flag should be displayed. Think about your most prized possession. You wouldn’t just throw it on the floor, would you? The same goes for our flag. After all, it is the symbol of our country, so it should be displayed with respect and dignity.

For example, the flag should never be in the darkness. Therefore, when displaying it outside, the flag should be taken down after sunset or have a light shining on it at all times. Also, the flag should not be displayed in bad weather. So, if you have a flag on a flagpole outside, it is best to take it down during a rainstorm. If the United States flag is displayed indoors with other flags from different states or groups, it should be placed highest and in the middle.

Sometimes, the flag is flown at half-staff when something bad happens, meaning that the flag flies halfway up the flagpole instead of at the top. This is done to show respect when a president or other major government official passes away. The flag has also been flown at half-staff during times of mourning after national or international tragedies, like after the September 11th attacks. Other countries practice this, as well.

Canada flies their flag at half-staff, too.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

Behavior Around the Flag

There are certain behaviors that are expected when in the presence of the flag. First of all, citizens who are in uniform should salute the flag, such as police, firefighters and military. A proper salute means that the person raises their right hand to their forehead with their fingers together.

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If a citizen isn’t in uniform, a salute isn’t necessary. Rather, they should put their right hand over their heart and face the flag. If they are wearing a hat, it is polite to take it off. Sometimes, it is appropriate to say the Pledge of Allegiance or sing the national anthem, like at a sporting event or graduation ceremony.

An Astronaut Saluting the Flag on the Moon

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

What NOT to Do with the Flag

It is just as important to understand what not to do with the flag. Here are some rules:

  • Never let the flag touch the ground.
  • Do not use the flag as a bag, drapery or costume.
  • Do not fly the flag upside down (unless there is an emergency).
  • Do not use the flag to advertise something.
  • Do not store the flag where it will get dirty.

The United States holds the service of those who protect our country in very high regard. One of the most symbolic ways we show our appreciation is by incorporating the American flag into the traditions and rituals of military and police funerals. The distinctive stars and stripes are a symbol of patriotism, bravery and history. Such a powerful symbol comes with its own unique traditions and funeral etiquette.

Nicknamed “Old Glory,” it is believed that the first American flag was designed by a New Jersey Congressmen and sewn by the famous Betsy Ross. On June 14, 1777, less than one year after the United States declared independence from Great Britain, the Continental Congress (a forefather of today’s Congress) declared the stars and stripes as the official American flag. Exactly 172 years later, President Harry S. Truman commemorated June 14 as national Flag Day. Up until 1960, Congress changed the size and shape of the official flag to make room for all 50 states.

Not only does each star stand for a state and each stripe stand for one of the 13 original colonies, but the colors are also symbolic. Red symbolizes hardiness and valor, white stands for purity and innocence and blue represents vigilance, perseverance and justice. As Flag Day approaches, learn more about the history behind some of America’s funeral traditions featuring flags.

American Flag Etiquette

When the American flag is used during a ceremony for a service member, there are several rules suggested by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to honor and respect the deceased.

  • A flag should not be lowered into a grave or touch the ground.
  • A flag should never be used as a covering for a statue or monument.
  • A flag should never be used in such a way that will allow it to be torn, dirtied or damaged.
  • A flag should not have anything placed on it, attached to it or marked on it.
  • A flag should never be used to hold or carry anything.
  • Any flag that is worn, torn or dirtied should no longer be publicly displayed but privately destroyed.
  • A draped flag should be held over the casket by the pallbearers and, immediately after the sounding of “Taps,” should be folded in the correct way.

There is history behind why the American flag is folded in such a precise manner. Each fold has a different meaning and those meanings are based on a set of traditional Christian principles. The origins of this procedure are mostly unknown, but some sources suggest it may have been the Gold Star Mothers of America or an Air Force chaplain who first used this process to honor Veterans.

The American Legion states that the blue field of the flag that is left showing during the folding program stands for honor and represents the states that Veterans served. When a flag is fully folded, it is often referred to as “looking like a cocked hat,” just like the hats worn by soldiers serving under General George Washington during the Revolutionary War.

Flags and Caskets

The tradition of covering a deceased Veteran with an American flag became common in the late 1700s during the Napoleonic wars. Flags were originally used to cover the deceased on a battlefield so that both sides could more easily identify them. Today, this tradition is no longer associated with battle but used to remind family and friends of the deceased’s service to their country.

Today, the VA lists how the American flag should be displayed when a decedent is placed in a casket:

  • Closed casket: the flag should be draped on the casket so that the union (the blue field) is at the head and over the left shoulder of the deceased.
  • Half couch (open): the flag should be placed in three layers so the blue field will be the top fold next to the open portion of the casket on the deceased’s left.
  • Full couch (open): the flag should be folded in the traditional triangular shape and placed in the center part of the head panel of the casket cap, above the left shoulder of the deceased.

In the case of cremation, a flag that has been folded into the traditional triangle can be displayed next to the cremated remains during a service.

The VA provides flags to Veterans who meet their qualifications of service . Funeral professionals can help families with the process of receiving a military-standard American flag by filling out the proper form. Flags are usually distributed at United States Postal Service offices and VA regional offices. However, they will only provide one flag per Veteran, so families wishing to have more than one should work with their local funeral home to acquire additional flags.

The Family Presentation

Each service branch of the American military has a different speech when presenting the flag to the deceased’s family. Almost all of them are presented on behalf of the President of the United States and the country. This practice is an important part of the military honors process.

Police and Emergency Responder Funerals

Flag etiquette for funerals of fallen police officers stems from the American Civil War when returned soldiers would join their local police force. Many police officers’ funerals follow the same flag guidelines as military funerals. Some use the flag of their police department with, or instead of, the American flag. Generally, the police department’s chief will make the call when it comes to these practices. Funerals of firefighters and EMS personnel can follow similar flag practices as military and police funerals; however, these traditions are much newer and are still evolving.

Understanding how the American flag is used during funeral services is an important part of respecting fallen and retired military personnel and their families. These honors can mean the world to a family who is experiencing one of the worst days of their life.

For any additional questions relating to flag etiquette for military service members or first responders, please contact your local funeral home or the VA location closest to you.

There are rules for Canadian government use of the flag, but they’re non-mandatory guidelines for individuals and organizations, covering everything from how to display the flag when it’s suspended vertically in the middle of a street to how to dispose of a damaged flag.

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The flag of Canada should be treated with respect, obviously.

There’s official etiquette for displaying the flag, too. Considered a set of rules for the federal government and its many branches, it’s not mandatory for individuals or organizations outside government, but the Department of Canadian Heritage says it should be regarded as a list of “guidelines for all persons who wish to display the Canadian flag and other flags in Canada.”

Do this, don’t do that: Canadian flag etiquette Back to video

Some seem more obvious than others, such as not permitting the flag to touch the ground, but t he guidelines also cover an array of situations ranging from how the flag should be flown on ships and boats to how it should be handled when used to cover a casket at a funeral to a flag’s eventual disposal. For example, when a Canadian flag is suspended vertically over the middle of an east-west street, the tops of the leaf should point north; when the roadway is north-south, the leaf tops should point east.

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“You know what? You’re the first person that has ever mentioned that to me. This kind of stuff, that has never come up in the history, in the 45 years I’ve been here. Nobody has ever asked that,” says Susan Braverman, Vancouver-based president of The Flag Shop chain. “That one’s pretty interesting. I have no idea. I can’t comment on it. It has never come up. It has never, ever, ever come up.”

One question that has come up frequently, according to Braverman, is where the Canadian flag should stand when it’s simultaneously displayed with other flags. The short answer is that the maple leaf should be in the middle in an array of three flags, but on the left side facing spectators when there are two flags or more than three.

“What’s kind of cool about that one is that, for U.S. protocol, the U.S. flag is on the right as seen by spectators,” she says. “So I always laugh because, when it’s Canada and the United States and our flags are together, both countries’ flags are given their own place of honour.”

Here are a few other points from Canadian Heritage’s nine-point document on flag etiquette as we mark Flag Day for 2020 today:

• Canada’s flag should never be used as: a tablecloth or seat cover; masking for boxes; a barrier on a stage or platform; a cover for a statue, monument or plaque at an unveiling ceremony; wearing apparel.

• It should not be flown in a discoloured or tattered condition, burned in effigy, touch the ground, be stepped on or be dipped or lowered to the ground as a means of paying salute or compliment to any person or thing. It should also not be flown upside down except as a signal of distress in “instances of extreme danger to life.”

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• The Canada Shipping Act requires a Canadian ship to hoist the flag upon entering or leaving foreign ports and entering/leaving Commonwealth ports “if carrying 50 tonnes gross tonnage or upwards.”

• When a flag becomes tattered and is no longer suitable for use, it should be “destroyed in a dignified way,” which could involve returning it to a participating retail store for disposal. Flags made from natural fibres can be burned “in a dignified manner,” meaning without ceremony or public attention. Flags composed of synthetic materials may be torn into strips so each element of the flag is reduced to a single colour; individual pieces should then be placed in a bag for disposal and shreds of fabric should not be re-used.

“Being laid to rest with the Flag is an honour that is not solely reserved for the funerals of soldiers, veterans, and dignitaries, but for all Canadians,” the guidelines conclude.

Here’s how you should properly handle your flag this summer.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

Summer is almost here, which means it’s time to get your American flags up and ready for the season’s two major holidays—Memorial Day and July 4th. In honor of the most patriotic time of the year, we’re taking a look at how to properly display, store, and take care of your American flag. In fact, the United States has an entire Flag Code to govern how American flags are handled and presented—we broke down the guidelines below:

There Are Specific Standards of Respect.

The flag code features instructions on how the flag should not be used based on standards of respect. That includes the rule that the flag should never be dipped to any person or thing, and the flag is flown upside down only as a distress signal. The flag should also never be used as clothing, drapery or decoration, and it should never touch anything beneath it, including the ground or floor, even as you lower it. You should also not attach or add a mark, insignia, word, or any type of drawing on a flag. It also should not be used for advertising purposes.

Keep Your Flag Clean and Mended.

When your flag is worn out and no longer in great condition, or if it’s damaged, it should be destroyed in a “dignified way, preferably by burning,” according to the flag code.

Follow the Guidelines on How to Display Your Flag.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

When displayed in a window, the flag should have the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street. If you are displaying the flag horizontally or vertically, the union should appear on the upper-left hand side. If you are showcasing a flag over the middle of the street, it should be suspended vertically with the union to the north, if placed in an east and west street, or with the union to the east, if placed in a north and south street.

When displayed with another flag cross-staff, place the American flag above the other on the flag’s own right, which is the observer’s left. If the flags of two or or more nations are displayed at the same time, they should be flown from separate staffs of the same height, and the flags should be equal in size. If you’re also flying the flag of states, cities, or localities at the same halyard with the American flag, the American flag should always be at the peak. No other flag should be placed above or to the right of the United State flag.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

The custom is to display the flag from sunrise to sunset, but if you’d like to keep your flag up 24 hours a day, then just make sure it is “properly illuminated during the hours of darkness,” per the flag code. Etiquette also dictates that the flag should not be displayed n inclement weather, except when you have an all-weather flag.

As you prepare to display your flag, keep in mind that it should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously. The flag code also dictates that your American flag can be showcased everyday, but particularly on holidays and special occasions, including New Year’s Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and any other day proclaimed by the President. It should also be displayed on state holidays.

There Are Rules Dictating When Your Flag Should Be Flown at Half-Staff.

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

The term half-staff specifically means one-half the distance between the top and the bottom of the staff, and when flying your flag at half-staff, you should first hoist the flag to the peak of the staff, then lowered to the half-staff position.

There special occasions throughout the year when your American flag should be flown at half-staff. On Memorial Day, the flag code dictates that your flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon—after that time, the flag should be raised to the top of the staff, according to a 2008 Congressional report. The flag should also be flown at half-staff by order of the President after the death of a public political figure in their memory.

After the death of a President or a former President, flags should be flown at half-staff for thirty days. When George H.W. Bush died in December 2018, Trump put this half-staff protocol into action “as an expression of public sorrow,” according to the New York Times.

In the wake of the death of the Vice-President, Chief Justice or retired Chief Justice, or Speaker of the House of Representatives, the flag should be flown at half-staff for ten days. In the past, Presidents have also directed that flags be flown at half-staff after the death of leading citizens as a tribute to their lives. Just last year, Trump directed the flags be flown at half-staff when Reverend Billy Graham died.

There’s a Proper Way to Fold Your American Flag.

Considering the guidelines that dictate how you handle the flag on a daily basis, it’s no surprise that there’s a proper way to fold your flag—and it should actually be folded into a triangle. Watch the video below for a step-by-step guide:

The United States Flag symbolizes America and the national values of freedom, liberty, and justice cherished by the American people. The flag represents American history and is a special symbol of the heroic sacrifices of the men and women who died serving the nation. Caring for and displaying the flag properly demonstrates care and respect for the nation, for the soldiers who serve it, and for our fellow citizens.

Displaying the U.S. Flag at Half-Staff

First hoist the flag to the peak of the flagpole, and then lower it to half-staff. Before lowering the flag, again hoist it to the peak before lowering it fully. The flag is flown at half-staff at the death of important figures of the U.S. government and the governor of a state, territory, or U.S. possession. The flag is also flown at half-staff on Memorial Day until noon, before being raised to the peak of the flagpole. The President of the United States, governors of states, territories, and possessions, and the mayor of the District of Columbia may issue proclamations calling for the display of the U.S. flag at half-staff.

Display of Several Flags on one Pole

The United States Flag should be displayed on a separate pole from flags of other countries. When displayed on a pole with other flags, such as state flags, the United States Flag is displayed on top. State flags, territory flags, and military flags, in that order, may be flown from the same flagpole under the U.S. Flag. State flags should be displayed beginning with the host state flag and then by order of their admission to the Union. Military flags are displayed in the following order, according to Department of Defense Directive 1005.8: Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. Other flags, such as the Merchant Marine and veterans flags, may follow the Coast Guard flag.

Display of Multiple Flags from Separate Poles

The U.S. Flag should be displayed at the highest point and center of any grouping of state, society, or military flags. The U.S. Flag should be hoisted before and lowered after all other flags. No flag should be displayed to the U.S. Flag’s right.

Display of the United States Flag with Flags of Other Nations

The United States Flag and the national flags of other sovereign countries should be displayed from separate flagpoles. The U.S. Flag code states that no other flag should be flown above, in a position equal to, in a position of greater prominence to, or to the right of the U.S. Flag. The flags of two or more countries should be flown from separate poles of equal height. The flags should be of roughly equal size. One national flag should not be displayed above another during a time of peace.

Display in a Parade or March

The United States Flag should be carried on the flag’s own right when marching in procession or in the center of a line of flags. To be displayed on a parade float, the flag must be displayed on a staff or properly displayed against a wall. The flag may be attached firmly to the chassis of an automobile or fixed to the right fender, but may not be draped over the hood, sides, top, or back of a car, train, or boat.

Display on a Wall or in a Window

The union, or the blue field, should always be uppermost and on the flag’s own right, which is the observer’s left, whether displayed horizontally or vertically on a wall. The flag should be displayed in this manner in a window, with the union to the left of the observer in the street. The flag should be displayed flat to the wall or window.

Display from a Home

To fly the flag from a horizontal or angled staff attached to a window sill, balcony, porch, or home, the union, or blue field, should be at the peak of the staff. The flag should be hoisted union first from a building along a rope that extends from the house to a flagpole near the sidewalk. The United States Flag should not be flown at night unless illuminated and should not be flow in inclement weather unless made of all-weather material. The U.S. Flag may not be used as a banner, bunting, clothing, bedding, or drapery. Banners, bunting, and similar decorations of red, white, and blue may be used, with the blue positioned at the top, the white in the middle, and the red at the bottom.

Display in an Auditorium or a Church

The U.S. Flag should be displayed on a pole or staff in the position of prominence, in front of the audience. The flag should be to the speaker or clergy person’s right, to the left of the audience. Any other flag should be to the speaker’s left and the audience’s right.

Using the Flag to Cover a Casket

The union of the flag should be placed at the head and over the left shoulder of the casket. The flag should be removed and properly folded before interment and should not be lowered into the grave or touch the ground.

More Information on the Care and Proper Display of the United States Flag

JENNIFER SPIRKO

CLASS

How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

The U.S. flag is a deeply meaningful symbol of the nation, and plays a role in national holidays, public funerals, military displays and response to national tragedies. The Flag Code, which dates from 1924, outlines the formal etiquette for the U.S. flag for civilians; it is not law, so legal penalties do not result from failure to observe its guidelines. The federal government issues laws that govern flag use at U.S. government facilities, such as post offices, after the deaths of public figures.

Explore this article

  • Half-Staff
  • Government Officials
  • Foreign Dignitaries
  • Other Leaders

1 Half-Staff

The term “half-staff” means the flag flies from halfway up the flagpole, not its usual position at the top. The National Flag Foundation outlines special steps for achieving proper half-staff display. To fly a flag at half-staff, first raise it to the top of the flagpole, then lower it halfway; before lowering the flag at night, again raise it to its highest position, then lower it. Flying a flag at half-staff honors the dead, but raising it fully at the beginning and end of the day honors the flag itself.

2 Government Officials

The half-staff protocol demonstrates respect for government officials, present or former, who have died. The U.S. Code specifies that this honor is accorded to “principal figures of the United States Government”; it may also be accorded to state or territorial officials, at the discretion of the governor of the state or territory. The mayor of the District of Columbia has the same authority to call for half-staff flag displays in his jurisdiction as do state governors. The flag flies at half-staff for 30 days after the death of a president and 10 days for the death of a vice president, Speaker of the House or Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; for most other officials, including governors and associate justices of the Supreme Court, the flag flies at half-staff between the day of death and the internment.

3 Foreign Dignitaries

When the death to be honored is not an American official but a foreign leader, diplomat or other dignitary, U.S. flags may still honor the occasion. In these cases, however, the president must specifically authorize a half-staff display; such displays may also be called for informally, as long as they do not conflict with existing law. This honor falls to the president’s discretion; flags were not officially flown at half-staff for the 2013 death of former U.K. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, for instance, although the president did issue a formal statement of mourning. The flag was flown at half-staff after the 2005 death of Pope John Paul II, however.

4 Other Leaders

Just as the president can authorize flying the flag at half-staff for foreign dignitaries, he can also authorize it for leading American political figures who did not hold formal office. President George W. Bush extended this honor to civil rights leaders Rosa Parks, in 2005, and Coretta Scott King, in 2006. In both cases, the flags were flown at half-staff for a single day, the date of their internment.

references

  • 1 National Flag Foundation: U.S. Flag Code Description
  • 2 National Flag Foundation: Proper Flag Etiquette, Half-staff Displays
  • 3 Cornell University Law School, Legal Information Institute: 4 USC § 7, Position and Manner of Display
  • 4 The White House, Office of the Press Secretary: Statement from the President on the Death of Baroness Margaret Thatcher; Barack Obama
  • 5 The White House, Office of the Press Secretary: President Bush Orders Flags Flown at Half Staff in Honor of Pope John Paul II; George W. Bush
  • 6 The White House, Office of the Press Secretary: Presidential Proclamation, Death of Rosa Parks; George W. Bush
  • 7 The White House, Office of the Press Secretary: Presidential Proclamation, Death of Coretta Scott King; George W. Bush

About the Author

Jennifer Spirko has been writing professionally for more than 20 years, starting at “The Knoxville Journal.” She has written for “MetroPulse,” “Maryville-Alcoa Daily Times” and “Some” monthly. She has taught writing at North Carolina State University and the University of Tennessee. Spirko holds a Master of Arts from the Shakespeare Institute, Stratford-on-Avon, England.

  • Flag Etiquette
  • How to Fold a Flag
  • Flag Folding Ceremony
  • 13 folds of the American Flag

General Display

It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

    When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left. When displayed in a window, the flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.

No other flag or pennant should be placed above, or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea…for personnel of the Navy…when the church pennant may be flown above the flag.

No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States at any place within the United States or any Territory or possession thereof; Provided, that nothing in this section shall make unlawful the continuance of the practice heretofore followed of displaying the flag of the United Nations in a position of superior prominence or honor, and other national flags in positions of equal prominence or honor, with that of the flag of the United States at the headquarters of the United Nations.

  • When flags of States, cities, or localities, or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the United States, the latter should always be at the peak.
  • When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the United States or to the United States flag’s right.
  • The flag of the United States of America, when it is displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the right, the flag’s own right, and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.
  • The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.
  • When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.
  • When used on a speaker’s platform, the flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman’s or speaker’s right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker or the right of the audience.
  • The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day, the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff. By order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of the State, territory or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law.

    In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory or possession of the United States, the Governor of that State, territory or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff.

    – Excerpts From The Flag Code of the United States – Public Law 94-344
    July 7, 1976

    We get many requests about North American flag etiquette, protocol, and lore. The sources below serve as entry-level gateways to such information for the United States, Canada, and Mexico.

    How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

    It is important to emphasize that although the U.S. Flag Code is indeed written into federal law and there are numerous statutes in the various states, there is no method of enforcement. Thus although these “laws” give instructions on how the national flag should be treated, they basically remain only traditions since the Supreme Court says that they are not legally enforceable. There is no “Flag Police” that enforces the suggested treatment or display of the national flag.

    The United States Flag Code establishes “advisory” rules for display and care of the flag of the United States. It is in Section 1 of Title 4 of the United States Code (4 U.S.C. § 1 et seq). This etiquette is only as applied within U.S. jurisdiction, and it is important to remember that in other countries and places their local etiquette applies.

    Sources of information about this topic:

    How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

    The manner in which flags may be displayed in Canada is also not governed by any legislation but by established practice. Canadian flag etiquette is a version of international usage and of customs the federal government has observed for many years, but the rules applied by the federal government are not mandatory for individuals or organizations; they serve as guidelines for all persons who wish to display the Canadian flag and other flags in Canada.

    Source of information about this topic:

    How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

    Regarding México’s flag lore and protocol, the basic protocol is regulated in the Law of the National Coat of Arms, Flag, and Anthem. Ceremonial flag use is regulated in the military field by the Regulation on Military Ceremonial Protocol. There is no national law regulating color guards; states, counties, or organizations regulate by themselves how to give homage to the flag strictly following the aforementioned law and adapting the military ceremonial protocols to civilian use.

    Sources of information about this topic:

    • Abanderamientos y protocolo para ceremonias cívicas (original website in Spanish)
      • Flag Use and Protocol for Civic Ceremonies – An English translation of the “Question and Answers” portion of the above website. (pdf file)
    • LEY SOBRE EL ESCUDO, LA BANDERA Y EL HIMNO NACIONALES (original pdf file in Spanish)
    • REGLAMENTO DE CEREMONIAL MILITAR (original pdf file in Spanish)
    • MANUAL DE ESCOLTAS, ENERO 2018 (original pdf file in Spanish)
      • Manual for Flag Guards, January 2018 – English translation prepared by Patrick Fiehn and Ian Fritz, January 2020. (pdf file)
    • REGLAMENTO DE ESCOLTAS – PARA ALUMNOS DE EDUCACIÓN BÁSICA (original website in Spanish)
    • REGLAMENTO DE EVOLUCIONES DE ESCOLTA Y ACTOS CIVICOS EN LA EDUCACIÓN BÁSICA (original interactive website in Spanish)
    • ANEXO 12 PROTOCOLO INCINERACION Y ABANDERAMIENTO (original pdf file in Spanish)

    Our thanks to Juan Manuel Gabino Villascán for his help and guidance in preparing this information on Mexican Flag Etiquette, Protocol, Rules, and Lore.

    The Ministry of Cabinet Affairs guidebook highlights the proper way of displaying the UAE flag

    How to Practice National Flag Etiquette

    UAE flag is hoisted at the Dubai Ladies Club. Image Credit: Abdel-Krim Kallouche/Gulf News

    Dubai: At noon on Tuesday, the UAE flag will be simultaneously hoisted across all government departments and buildings across the emirate. As the country celebrates National Flag Day, Gulf News highlights the dos and don’ts of the country’s flag-raising etiquette, as stated on the UAE Ministry of Cabinet Affairs guidebook.

    Flags that have been damaged or its colours have faded should not be raised. Hoisting the flag in a manner that does not follow the instructions provided

    Flags should be made of a durable material, preferably nylon, to withstand the country’s climate and humidity levels. The flag’s material should be able to flutter in the wind. The dyes used for the flag’s pan-Arab colours should be picked with local weather conditions in mind. The guidebook also suggests that flags be regularly changed to maintain their pristine look.

    Flag and flagpole sizes

    The size of the flag varies according to where the flag is hoisted. If raised atop a building, the flag should be 1.5 metresx3 metres in size, while the post on which it is hoisted should be between eight to 10 metres. If hoisted in front of a building, the flag should be 1 metrex2 metres in size and the post between 10-12 metres. Flags inside a hall or an office should also be 1mx2m, hoisted on a pole between four to six metres in a hall and 2.5 metres in an office.

    Flag placement and positioning

    Flags put up on the street, such as the strings of flags arcing from one side of a street to the other, should be positioned vertically with the red part on top, and the black part to the left. The same applies for large flags adorning the entrance of a building.

    The UAE flag can be placed on light-posts during national holidays. The flag should be hung horizontally with the red part on top. It is forbidden for any other flag to be hung on the same street.

    In front of hotels, or any buildings with multiple flagpoles, the UAE flag should be hoisted on the far left, if the total number of flagpoles is even. If there are an odd number of flagpoles, the UAE flag is hoisted in the middle.

    All ships, whether trading boats or foreign warships, are required to hoist the UAE flag when within its waters. The flag should be hoisted upright from the centre of the ship when it is sailing and from the stern of the ship when it is docked.

    During a speech, the flag is placed on the left of the podium, just behind the speaker’s right. The flag should always be hung higher than the speaker’s head.

    When adorning a coffin with the UAE flag, the red part should cover the top part of the coffin. The flag should also be draped in such a way to prevent it from touching the floor. After the funeral proceedings, the flag is removed, folded and handed over to the deceased’s family.

    Holidays such as the 4 th of July, Memorial Day and Patriot’s Day give citizens the opportunity to proudly display our nation’s symbol. To ensure you do so responsibly and in accordance with patriotic guidelines, the Flag Manufacturers Association of America (FMAA) offers these helpful guidelines:

    4 th of July

    Independence Day honors the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and is a day of significance for so many reasons. This day has inspired speeches and musical compositions and provides us the opportunity to ponder the meaning of our nation’s heritage and celebrate our freedoms in our own unique way.

    • To salute the flag, all persons should come to attention. Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute as specified by the uniform service. Citizens not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over their hearts. Men wearing a head cover (a hat, cap or other headwear) are to remove it. Women may wear a head covering.
    • In parades or reviews, at the moment the flag passes, stand at attention facing the flag and salute.
    • The Flag of the United States is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered. The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of the national anthem; whichever is the longest.
    • When the national anthem is played or sung, stand at attention and salute, by placing your right hand over the heart, at the first note and hold the salute through the last note. The salute is directed to the flag, if displayed, otherwise to the music. If in uniform, salute in the formal manner. It is proper to salute wherever the national anthem is played, for instance, on a college campus, in a public park, in a church, at a ball game, sports event, etc.
    • When the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, stand at attention and salute by placing your right hand over your heart with the first word and hold the salute through the last line of the Pledge. The salute is directed to the flag by facing the flag during the Pledge.

    Memorial Day

    Memorial Day is a sacred day reserved for the remembrance of those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. While we can never repay the brave men and women who have given their lives while serving as members of America’s armed forces, the FMAA hopes that every American takes time to remember and honor them this Memorial Day by flying their U.S. Flag.

    • Fly the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon
    • Fly the ‘POW/MIA Flag’ as well
    • Visit cemeteries and place flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes
    • Visit memorials
    • Participate in a “National Moment of Remembrance” at 3:00 PM to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day
    • Renew a pledge to aid those affected by our fallen heroes, and to aid disabled veterans

    Patriot’s Day

    Each April, Patriot’s Day honors the battles and skirmishes that began our fight for independence. Patriot’s Day, held on the third Monday in April, commemorates the battle of Lexington and Concord, which was fought on April 19, 1775. Part of the history of this famous revolutionary battle was the midnight ride of Paul Revere and “the shot heard ’round the world.” Today only Massachusetts, Maine and Wisconsin officially recognize this state holiday, but its celebrations are known by many. Besides several reenactments of the famous midnight ride, there are other festivities including professional baseball games and the running of the Boston Marathon.

    Wartime and Mourning Periods

    It is always permissible and desirable to fly the American flag, but displaying it every day is particularly appropriate to show support for our troops when the nation is at war. While it is considered inappropriate to fly the American flag in inclement weather, it is permissible to fly the flag at night if there is enough light in the area so that the flag can be plainly seen. There is no special “war time” protocol for displaying the American flag during periods of military conflict, although there are situations that arise that generate questions.

    Use of a yellow ribbon has been an unofficial American tradition for over 100 years. Displaying a yellow ribbon indicates thoughts and prayers for the safe return of American forces on duty away from home. No official guidelines for its display exist but yellow ribbons are often tied to trees and light poles or displayed in miniature on the left lapel of jackets or other clothing. When displayed with an American flag the preferred position of the yellow ribbon is tied in a bow above a full-staffed flag. Note that displaying a black or yellow ribbon above the American flag is not considered a breech of Flag Etiquette because the ribbon does not represent another country or organization.

    The flag should normally be at full staff. It should be half-staffed for a designated half-staff holiday by proclamation of the President. Designated half-staff holidays are:

    • Memorial Day (half-staff until noon)
    • Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15)
    • Korean War Veterans Day (July 27th)
    • Patriot Day (Sept.11)
    • Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (Dec. 7th)

    The Governor of a State, territory or possession of the United States may proclaim that the national flag be flown at half-staff in the event of the death of a present or former official of that State, territory or possession as a mark of respect to their memory.