How to Handle the Flag of the United States of America
Federal Flag Code - Public Law 94-344
To amend the joint resolution entitled "Joint resolution
to codify and emphasize existing rules and customs pertaining
to the display and use of the flag of the United States of America".
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
States of America in Congress assembled, That the joint resolution
entitled "Joint resolution to codify and emphasize existing
rules and customs pertaining to the display and use of the flag
of the United States of America", as amended (36 U.S.C.
171-178), is amended:
That the following codification of existing
rules and customs pertaining to the display and use of the
flag of the United States of America be, and is hereby, established
for the use of such civilians or civilian groups or organizations
as may not be required to conform with regulations promulgated
by one or more executive departments of the Government of the
United States. The flag of the United States for the purpose
of this chapter shall be defined according to title 4, United
States Code, Chapter I, section I and section 2 and Executive
Order 10834 issued pursuant thereto.
(a) 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.
(b) The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
(c) The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather
is inclement, except when an all weather flag is displayed.
(d) The flag should be displayed on all days, especially on
New Year's Day, January 1; Inauguration Day, January 20; Lincoln's
Birthday, February- 12; Washington's Birthday, third Monday in
February; Easter Sunday (variable); Mother's Day, second Sunday
in May; Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May; Memorial Day
(half-staff until noon), the last Monday in May; Flag Day, June
14; Independence Day, July 4; Labor Day, first Monday in September;
Constitution Day, September 17; Columbus Day, second Monday in
October; Navy Day, October 27; Veterans Day, November 11; Thanksgiving
Day, fourth Thursday in November; Christmas Day, December 25;
and such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of
the United States; The birthdays of States (date of admission);
and on State holidays.
(e) The flag should be displayed daily on or near the main administration
building of every public institution.
(f) The flag should be displayed in or near every polling place
on election days.
(g) The flag should be displayed during school days in or near
That the flag, when carried in a procession with
another flag or flags, should be either on the marching right;
that is, the flag's own right, or, if there is a line of other
flags, in front of the center of that line.
(a) The flag should not be displayed on a float in a parade
except from a staff, or as provided in subsection (j).
(b) The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides,
or back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat. When the
flag is displayed on a motor car, the staff should be fixed firmly
to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.
(c) 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, when the church pennant may be flown above
the flag during church services for the personnel of the Navy.
(See Public Law 107, page 4)
(d) 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.
(e) 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.
(f) 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.
(g) 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.
(h) When the flag of the United States is displayed from a staff
projecting horizontally or at an angle from the window sill,
balcony, or front of a building, the union of the flag should
be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half
staff. When the flag is suspended over a sidewalk from a rope
extending from a house to a pole at the edge of the sidewalk,
the flag should be hoisted out, union first, from the building.
(i) 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.
(j) When the flag is displayed over the middle of the street,
it should be suspended vertically with the union to the north
in an east and west street or to the east in a north and south
(k) 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 to the right of the
(l) The flag should form a distinctive feature of the ceremony
of unveiling a statue or monument, but it should never be used
as the covering for the statue or monument.
(m) 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 a 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. The flag shall be flown at half-staff
thirty days from the death of the President or a former President;
ten days from the day of death of the Vice President, the Chief
Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the
Speaker of the House of Representatives; from the day of death
until interment of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court,
a Secretary of an executive or military department, a former
Vice President, or the Governor of a State, territory, or possession;
and on the day of death and the following day for a Member of
Congress. As used in this subsection -
(1) the term 'half-staff' means the position of the flag when
it is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the
(2) the term 'executive or military department' means any agency
listed under sections 101 and 102 of title 5, United States Code;
(3) the term Member of Congress' means a Senator, a Representative,
a Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico.
(n) 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
(o) When the flag is suspended across a corridor or lobby in
a building with only one main entrance, it should be suspended
vertically with the union of the flag to the observer's left
upon entering. If the building has more than one main entrance,
the flag should be suspended vertically near the center of the
corridor or lobby with the union to the north, when entrances
are to the east and west or to the east when entrances are to
the north and south. If there are entrances in more than two
directions, the union should be to the east.
That no disrespect should be shown to the flag 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 honor.
(a) The 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,
(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
(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 a ceiling.
(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 anything.
(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 napkins 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
(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.
During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag
or when the flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons
present except those in uniform should face the flag and stand
at attention with the right hand over the heart. Those present
in uniform should render the military salute. When not in uniform,
men should remove their headdress with their right hand and
hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.
Aliens should stand at attention. The salute to the flag in a
moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.
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.
The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, "I pledge
allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to
the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all", should be rendered by
standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over
the heart. When not in uniform men 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 remain silent,
face the flag and render the military salute.
Any rule or custom pertaining to the display of the flag
of the United States of America, set forth herein, may be altered,
modified, or repealed, or additional rules with respect thereto
may be prescribed, by the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces
of the United States, whenever he deems it to be appropriate
or desirable; and any such alteration or additional rule shall
be set forth in proclamation.