Display and use of flag by civilians; codification of rules and customs;
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 this title
and Executive Order 10834 issued pursuant thereto.
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
(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
(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 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
(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 30 days from the death of the President or a
former President; 10 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. The flag shall
be flown at half-staff on Peace Officers Memorial Day, unless that day is also
Armed Forces Day. 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, United States Code; 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.
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 property.
(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
(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 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 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.
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 or in review, all 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.
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 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 a