Flag Etiquette

The American flag is our National Emblem, a symbol of our great country, our heritage and our place in the world. We owe reverence and respect to out flag; it represents the highest ideals of individual liberty, justice and equal opportunity for all.

With so many Americans wishing to display the American flag as a sign of their support for those affected by recent acts of terrorism and as a show of support for our military engaged in combat, PMCT offers a guide to flag display.

  • It is universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and flagstaffs in the open. When patriotic effect is desired, however, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated at night. The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all-weather flag is used.

  • When a flag is displayed over a street, it should be hung vertically, with the union to the north or east. If the flag is suspended over a sidewalk, the flag's union should be farthest from the building.

  • When the flag of the United States is displayed from a pole projecting horizontally or at an angle from a windowsill, balcony, or the 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 flown with flags of states, communities, or societies on separate flagpoles, which are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor - to its own right.
    • The other flags may be smaller, but none may be larger.
    • No other flag ever should be placed above it.
    • The flag of the United States is always the first flag raised and the last lowered.
    • When flown with the national banner of other countries, the flag of one nation may not be displayed above that of another nation.

    The Flag Code contains specific information about how the flag is not to be used:

    • The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress code.
    • The flag should not be used as a drapery, or to cover a speaker's desk, or to drape a platform, or as any decoration in general. Red, white and blue bunting should be used for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on top.
    • The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose.
    • When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object.
    • The flag should never be part of any costume of athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniforms of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations.
    • The flag should never be altered in any manner.

    When the flag is so worn that it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner. Many veterans' organizations regularly conduct a dignified ceremony and may be contacted for that purpose.

    The national flag represents the living country and is considered to be a living thing emblematic of the respect and pride we have for our country. Our flag is a precious possession. Display it proudly.