How to properly display the flag of the United States

File. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

(WTNH) — Independence Day is just around the corner, and with the holiday comes American flags being displayed just about everywhere. However, many people may not know how to properly display the flag.

There are certain traditions and regulations placed by the Flag Protection Act of 1989 to preserve the integrity of the flag of the United States. The Congressional Research Service provides some guidelines on how to properly display the flag.

Traditionally, the flag is on display from sunrise to sunset, but can be displayed at night for special occasions or for patriotic effect. It should be displayed at every public institution, such as polling places on election days and schoolhouses on school days. The flag should also be hoisted quickly and lowered ceremoniously.

The flag should be displayed on all days, especially on:

  • New Year’s Day, January 1st
  • Inauguration Day, January 20th
  • Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, third Monday in January
  • Lincoln’s Birthday, February 12th
  • 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 14th
  • Father’s Day, third Sunday in June
  • Independence Day, July 4th
  • Labor Day, first Monday in September
  • Constitution Day, September 17th
  • Columbus Day, second Monday in October
  • Navy Day, October 27th
  • Veterans Day, November 11th
  • Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November
  • Christmas Day, December 25th

The Union:

  • When hung vertically on a wall, window, or door, the union (blue area of the flag) should be to the observer’s left.
  • When displayed over a street, the flag should be suspended vertically with the union to the north on an east and west street, or to the east on a north and south street.
  • On a platform, the flag should be behind the speaker with the union to the uppermost left of the observer.
  • In a church or auditorium, the flag should be on the speaker’s left.
  • On a casket, the union should be on the head and over the left shoulder.
  • The union should always be at the peak of the staff.


  • Do not put the flag on a float, a hood, the top, the sides, or the back of vehicles unless it is held up by a staff fixed firmly into the chassis.
  • If it is not staffed, the flag should be flat or appear to be staffed.


  • Half-staff is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff.
  • When displayed at half-staff, the flag should first be hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to half-staff position. It should again be raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.

Adjacent to other flags:

  • When in a line of other flags, the flag of the United States should be to the right or center of the other.
  • No flag should be placed above the flag of the United States. The only exception is the United Nations flag, but only at the United Nations Headquarters.
  • Other nations’ flags should be placed at the same height as the flag of the United States.
  • The flag of the United States should be hoisted first and last.


  • Dip the flag to any person or thing.
  • Put the union facing down.
  • Let the flag touch anything beneath it.
  • Cover a ceiling with the flag.
  • Place anything on the flag.
  • Use the flag for advertisements.

The 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.”

Be sure to follow these guidelines to ensure your flag is being displayed properly. Have a happy Fourth of July!


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