- Flying the American Flag at Half-Staff
- Flag Retirement of Worn Flags
- Flag Holidays
- US Flag Etiquette
Flying the American Flag at Half-Staff
An easy way to remember when to fly the United States flag at half-staff is to consider when the entire nation is in mourning. These periods of mourning are proclaimed by the President of the United States for national remembrance in the event of a death of a member or former member of the federal, state, territorial government, or judiciary.
How long should the flag be at half-staff?
- Thirty days after the death of a President or former President
- Ten days after the death of a Vice President, the Chief Justice or retired Chief Justice, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives
- Until the burial of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, Secretary of a military department, or the Governor of a state, territory, or possession
- On the day of, and the day after, the death of a Member of Congress
The three most confusing flag holidays are Memorial Day, Fourth of July, and Veteran’s Day.
- Memorial Day honors those who have died while serving in the military, therefore U.S. Flags fly at half-staff from sunrise until noon only, then it is proudly raised briskly for the remainder of the day to honor living veterans.
- Both the Fourth of July and Veteran’s Day the flag flies at full staff since it is celebrating our countries birth and the service of all U.S. Military.
When raising the American Flag to half-staff on a vertical pole, always raise it briskly to the top of the flagpole for a moment before lowering it to the center position.
When the American Flag is flown at half-staff, state and other flags should be removed or also flown at half-staff.For more, visit www.USA.gov/flag
Flag Retirement of Worn Flags
Just as there's etiquette for displaying Old Glory, there's also etiquette for disposing of flags in a dignified manner. Section 8(k) of the U.S. Flag Code states, “The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning”.
In many communities, local government offices and police stations have flag disposal boxes. The Flag Station USA also has a flag disposal bin in our showroom located in Altoona, Pennsylvania. Throughout the year, organizations like the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Girl Scouts, and Boy Scouts collect the disposed flags and hold ceremonies to retire them. Flag Day (June 14) is one of the most common days to hold flag disposal ceremonies.For more, visit: www.defense.gov
and see U.S. Code, Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8(k)
Flying an American flag is one of the simplest and most powerful ways to demonstrate your patriotism. Although it is appropriate to fly your flag from sunrise to sunset every day, there are certain holidays that are more notable for Americans to do so.
U.S. 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 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.
Quick list of Flag Etiquette Don’ts:
- Don’t dip the U.S. Flag for any person, flag, or vessel.
- Don’t let the flag touch the ground.
- Don’t fly flag upside down unless there is an emergency.
- Don’t carry the flag flat or carry things in it.
- Don’t use the flag as clothing, bedding or drapery.
- Don’t store the flag where it can get dirty.
- Don’t use it as a cover.
- Don’t fasten it or tie it back. Always allow it to fall free.
- Don’t draw on, or otherwise mark the flag.
- Don’t use the flag for decoration. Use bunting with the blue on top, then white, then red.
For more, see U.S. Code, Title 4, Chapter 1