Hoist the Stars and Stripes! — and be sure to follow flag etiquette


By Kelly Taylor, WKTV


Old Glory is displayed practically everywhere on Independence Day, but did you know one cannot simply hoist up the flag? There’s a certain way to do it, and there many, many rules to follow.


We thus take this occasion to review the rules of displaying the United States flag, under Chapter 1 of U.S. Code: Title 4 — Flag and Seal, Seat of Government, and the States. As with any U.S. Code, things can get mighty confusing, so we’ve abridged the rules here, in no particular order:

  • The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
  • 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 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
  • When flown at half-staff, the flag should first be hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position.
  • When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the field of stars should be in the uppermost corner and to the observer’s left.
  • 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.
  • The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is used.
  • When displayed on an automobile, the staff should be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.
  • The flag should never be used as clothing, bedding or drapery.
  • The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
  • The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled or damaged.
  • The flag should never be displayed with the field of stars down, except as a distress signal.
  • The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor or water.
  • 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.

Fun fact:

The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, a lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.


If you’d like to see a cool, historical progression of flag designs over the years, go here.