United States Flag Code
(36 US Code 10)
The Rules of Respect and Display of The American Flag
§ 170. National Anthem; Star Spangled Banner
The composition consisting of the words and music known as The Star-Spangled
Banner is designated the national anthem of the United States of America.
§ 171. Conduct during playing
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
§ 173. Display and use of flag by civilians; codification of rules
and customs; definition
The following codification of existing rules and customs pertaining
to the display and use of the flag of the United States of America is 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 sections 1 and 2 of Title 4 and issued pursuant thereto.
§ 174. Time and Occasions for display; hoisting and lowering
- (a) Display on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in open; night display
- 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) Manner of hoisting
- The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
- (c) Inclement weather
- The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement,
except when an all weather flag is displayed.
- (d) Particular days of display
- 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; [Webmaster's
Note: The true Memorial Day is May 30]; 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) Display on or near administration building of public institutions
- The flag should be displayed daily on or near the main administration
building of every public institution.
- (f) Display in or near polling places
- The flag should be displayed in or near every polling place on election
- (g) Display in or near schoolhouses
- The flag should be displayed during school days in or near every schoolhouse.
§ 175. Position and manner of display
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 (i) of this section.
- (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 motorcar, the staff shall 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. No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or
any other national or international flag equal, above, or in a position
of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United
States at any place within the United States or any Territory or possession
thereof: Provided, That nothing in this section shall make unlawful the
continuance of the practice heretofore followed of displaying the flag
of the United Nations in a position of superior prominence or honor, and
other national flags in positions of equal prominence or honor, with that
of the flag of the United States at the headquarters of the United Nations.
- (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 the
- (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 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 street.
- (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 audience.
- (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, 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 staff;
- (2) the term "executive or military department" means any
agency listed under sections 101 and 102 of title 5; and
- (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 the ground.
- (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.
§ 176 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 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
- (b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground,
the floor, water, or merchandise.
- (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
- (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 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 of 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
§ 177. Conduct during hoisting, lowering or passing of flag
During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the flag
is passing in a parade of in review, all persons present except for 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.
§ 178. Modification of rules and customs by President
Any rule or custom pertaining to the display of the flag of the United
States of America, set forth in section 171-178 of this title, 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 a proclamation.
Greg's Tribute to the American Independence Day
Copyright © Greg Brother 1998-2001. All rights reserved.