this section, you will find detailed information about the
flag code, frequently asked questions about the flag,
instructions for folding the flag, the words for the pledge
of allegiance, its history, how to dispose of unserviceable
flags, among other flag issues.
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May a person, other than a
veteran, have their casket draped with the flag of the
although this honor is usually reserved for veterans or
highly regarded state and national figures, the Flag Code
does not prohibit this use.
Q: Can a flag that has been used to cover a
casket be displayed after its original use?
A: There are no provisions in the Flag Code to
suggest otherwise. It would be a fitting tribute to the
memory of the deceased veteran and their service to a
grateful nation if their casket flag were displayed.
: Can the United
States flag be displayed on days when the
weather is inclement?
A: The flag should not be displayed on
days when the weather is inclement, except when
an all weather (nylon or other non-absorbent
material) flag is displayed. However, most all
flags are made of all weather materials.
What is the
significance of displaying the flag at
This gesture is a sign to indicate the
nation mourns the death of an individual(s),
such as death of the President or former
President, Vice President, Supreme Court
Justice, member of Congress, Secretary of an
executive or military department, etc. Only the
President of the United States or the Governor
of the State may order the flag to be
half-staffed. The honor and reverence accorded
this solemn act is quickly becoming eroded by
those individuals and agencies that display the
flag at half-staff on inappropriate occasions
without proper authority to do so.
When the flag
is not flown from a staff, how should it be
It should be displayed vertically,
whether indoors or out, and suspended so that
its folds fall free as though the flag were
staffed. The stripes may be 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 of a home or a place of
business, the flag should be displayed in the
same way; that is, with the union or blue field
to the left of the observer in the street.
Q: How are unserviceable flags destroyed?
A:The Flag Code suggests that, "when a
flag has served its useful purpose, it should be
destroyed, preferably by burning." For
individual citizens, this should be done
discreetly so the act of destruction is not
perceived as a protest or desecration. Many
American Legion Posts conduct Disposal of
Unserviceable Flag Ceremonies on June 14, Flag
Day. This ceremony creates a particularly
dignified and solemn occasion for the retirement
of unserviceable flags.
Can the flag be
washed or dry-cleaned?
Yes. There are no provisions of the
Flag Code which prohibit such care. The decision
to wash or dry-clean would be dependent on the
required to destroy the flag if it touches the
Flag Code section 176b states that the
flag should not touch anything beneath it such
as the ground. This is stated to indicate that
care should be exercised in the handling of the
flag, to protect it from becoming soiled or
damaged. You ARE NOT required to destroy the
flag when this happens. As long as the flag
remains suitable for display, even if washing or
dry-cleaning (which is acceptable practice) is
required, you may continue to display the flag
as a symbol of our great country.
What is the
proper method for folding the flag?
The Flag Code does not require any
specific method, however, there is a tradition
that has developed over time. This method
produces a triangular shaped form like that of a
three corner hat with only the blue union
May a person,
other than a veteran, have their casket draped
with the flag of the United States?
Yes, although this honor is usually
reserved for veterans or highly regarded state
and national figures, the Flag Code does not
prohibit this use.
What is the
significance of the gold fringe which we see on
some American flags?
Records indicate that fringe was first
used on the flag as early as 1835. It was not
until 1895 it was officially added to the
National flag for all regiments of the Army. For
civilian use, fringe is not required as an
integral part of the flag, nor can its use be
said to constitute an unauthorized addition to
the design prescribed by statute. It is
considered that fringe is used as an honorable
What is meant
by the flag's own right?
The "right" as the position of honor
developed from the time when the "right hand"
was the "weapon hand" or "point of danger." The
right hand, raised without a weapon, was a sign
of peace. The right hand, to any observer, is
the observer's left. Therefore, as used in the
Flag Code, the flag and/or blue field is
displayed to the left of the observer, which is
the flag's "own right."
Is it proper
to fly the flag of the United States at night?
The Flag Code states it is the
universal custom to display the flag only from
sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary
flag staffs 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
American Legion interprets " proper
illumination" as a light specifically placed to
illuminate the flag (preferred) or having a
light source sufficient to illuminate the flag
so it is recognizable as such by the casual
What should be
the position of the flag when displayed from a
staff in a church, public auditorium or other
public meeting place, whether indoors or
outdoors, on platform, or on the floor at ground
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, public auditorium or
meeting place, the flag 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. Prior to the Flag Code changes in
1976, the display procedure was somewhat
different. Now the staffed flag should always be
placed to the right of the speaker (observer's
left) without regard to a platform or floor
What are the
penalties for the physical desecration of the
There are currently no penalties for
the physical desecration of the flag. The
American Legion and other members of the
Citizens Flag Alliance
towards securing a Constitutional amendment to
protect the flag from physical desecration.
Conduct during playing National Anthem
During rendition of the national anthem when the
flag is displayed, all present except those in
uniform should stand at attention facing the
flag with the right hand over the heart. Men not
in uniform should remove their headdress with
their right hand and hold it at the left
shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons
in uniform should render the military salute at
the first note of the anthem and retain this
position until the last note. When the flag is
not displayed, those present should face toward
the music and act in the same manner they would
if the flag were displayed there.
Flag Code - Respect for Flag
Respect for flag No disrespect should be shown
to the flag of the United States of America; the
flag should not be dipped to any person or thing.
Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or
institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of
flag should never be displayed with the union down,
except as a signal of dire distress in instances of
extreme danger to life or property.
(b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it,
such as the ground, the floor, water, or
(c) The flag should never be carried flat or
horizontally, but always aloft and free.
(d) The flag should never be used as wearing
apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be
festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always
allowed to fall free.
Bunting of blue, white, and red always arranged with
the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red
below, should be used for covering a speaker's desk,
draping the front of the platform, and for
decoration in general.
(e) 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 in any way.
(f) The flag should never be used as a covering for
(g) The 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 of any nature.
(h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle
for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering
(i) The flag should never be used for advertising
purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be
embroidered on such articles as cushions or
handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise
impressed on paper napkin or boxes or anything that
is designed for temporary use and discard.
Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff
or halyard from which the flag is flown.
(j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a
costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch
may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel,
firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic
organizations. The flag represents a living country
and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore,
the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn
on the left lapel near the heart.
(k) 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.
(Disposal of Unserviceable Flags Ceremony)