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The United States Flag: Display, Customs, and Associated Questions

The United States “Federal Flag Code” (Title 4 and Title 36 of the United States Code) provides instructions on how to display the flag during its rendition. . Please note: The information contained herein is not meant to be inclusive and does not cover all situations. Please refer to the links listed below for more detailed information.

Displaying the Flag and General Rules:

When to Display

  • The flag should only be flown from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs and 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.
  • The flag should be displayed daily on or near the main administration building of every public institution.
  • The flag should be displayed in or near every polling place on election days.
  • The flag should be displayed during school days in or near every schoolhouse.
  • The flag should be displayed on all days, but especially on:
    • New Year’s Day - January 1
    • Inauguration Day - January 20
    • Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday - the third Monday in January
    • Lincoln’ s Birthday - February 12
    • Washington’ s Birthday - third Monday in February
    • Easter Sunday - (varies)
    • Mother’s Day - second Sunday in May
    • Peace Officers Memorial Day - May 15 (half-staff) *
    • Armed Forces Day - third Saturday in May
    • Memorial Day - the last Monday in May (half-staff until noon)
    • Flag Day - June 14
    • Independence Day - July 4
    • Korean War Veterans Day - July 27 (half-staff) *
    • Labor Day - first Monday in September
    • Patriot Day - September 11 (half-staff) *
    • Constitution Day - September 17
    • POW / MIA Recognition Day - 3rd Friday in September *
    • Gold Star Mother's Day - Last Sunday in September *
    • Columbus Day - second Monday in October
    • Navy Day - October 27
    • Veterans Day - November 11
    • Thanksgiving Day - fourth Thursday in November
    • Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day - December 7th (half-staff) *
    • Christmas Day, December 25
    • State Holidays and the birthdays of states (date of admission)
    • And all other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States.

    * = This date not listed in the US Flag Code

General Rules:

  • The flag should not be flown during inclement weather except when an all-weather flag is used.
  • A flag that is worn should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

Guidelines for showing respect to the flag and conduct during renditions:

Pledge of Allegiance:

  • Those in military uniform: Stand at attention, remain silent, face the flag, and render a salute.
  • Those not in military uniform: Remove headdress and stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart.

The National Anthem (Star Spangled Banner)

  • Those in military uniform: Stand at attention, face the flag, and render a salute.
  • Those not in military uniform: Remove headdress and stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. (Note: When the flag is not displayed all present should face the music).

US Flag Trivia:

  • The U.S. flag is the fourth oldest national flag in the world>
  • The starred (blue) area of the flag is called the Canton or Union.
  • Only the President of the United States or the Governor of the State may order the flag to be half-staffed.
  • Flags flown over the U.S. Capital have been available to the general public since 1937. In fact, over 100,000 flags a year are flown over the Capital. To request a flag contact your U.S. Senator or U.S. Representative.

US Federal Flag Code: