Flag Display FAQ
Can a flag that has covered a casket
be displayed after its original use?
There are no provisions in the Flag Code to suggest otherwise. It
would be a fitting tribute to the memory of the deceased veteran
and his or her service to a grateful nation if the casket flag is
U.S. flag be displayed in inclement weather?
The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement,
with the exception of an all-weather (nylon or other non-absorbent
material) flag. However, most flags are made of all-weather materials.
the significance of displaying the flag at half-staff?
This gesture is a sign to indicate the nation mourns the death of
an individual(s), such as death of the president or former president,
vice president, Supreme Court justice, member of Congress, secretary
of an executive or military department, etc. Only the president
or a state governor may order the flag to be displayed at half-staff.
The honor and reverence accorded this solemn act is quickly becoming
eroded by those individuals and agencies that display the flag at
half-staff on inappropriate occasions without proper authority to
flag is not flown from a staff, how should it be displayed?
It should be displayed vertically, whether indoors or out, and suspended
so that its folds fall free as though the flag were staffed. The
stripes may be displayed either horizontally or vertically against
a wall, and the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own
right (that is, to the observer's left). When displayed in a window
of a home or a place of business, the flag should be displayed in
the same way (that is, with the union or blue field to the left
of the observer in the street).
unserviceable flags destroyed?
The Flag Code suggests that when a flag has served its useful purpose,
"it should be destroyed, preferably by burning." For individual
citizens, this should be done discreetly so the act of destruction
is not perceived as a protest or desecration. Many American Legion
posts conduct disposal of unserviceable flag ceremonies on June
14, Flag Day. Such ceremonies are particularly dignified and solemn
occasions for the retirement of unserviceable flags.
flag be washed or dry-cleaned?
Yes. No provisions of the Flag Code prohibit such care. The decision
to wash or dry-clean would depend on the material.
required to destroy the flag if it touches the ground?
The Flag Code states that the flag should not touch anything beneath
it, including the ground. This is stated to indicate that care should
be exercised in the handling of the flag, to protect it from becoming
soiled or damaged. You are not required to destroy the flag when
this happens. As long as the flag remains suitable for display,
even if washing or dry-cleaning is required, you may continue to
display the flag as a symbol of our great country.
the proper method for folding the flag?
The Flag Code does not require any specific method. However, a tradition
of folding has developed over time that produces a triangular-shaped
form, like that of a three-corner hat with only the blue union showing.
May a person,
other than a veteran, have his or her casket draped with the flag
of the United States?
Yes. Although this honor is usually reserved for veterans or highly
regarded state and national figures, the Flag Code does not prohibit
the significance of the gold fringe seen on some U.S. flags?
Records indicate that fringe was first used on the flag as early
as 1835. It was not until 1895 it was officially added to the national
flag for all Army regiments. For civilian use, fringe is not required
as an integral part of the flag, nor can its use be said to constitute
an unauthorized addition to the design prescribed by statute. Fringe
is used as an honorable enrichment only.
meant by the flag's own right?
The "right" as the position of honor developed from the
time when the right hand was the "weapon hand" or "point
of danger." The right hand, raised without a weapon, was a
sign of peace. The right hand, to any observer, is the observer's
left. Therefore, as used in the Flag Code, the flag and/or blue
field is displayed to the observer's left, which is the flag's "own
Is it proper
to fly the U.S. flag at night?
The Flag Code states it is the universal custom to display the flag
only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flag
staffs 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 American Legion interprets "
proper illumination" as a light specifically placed to illuminate
the flag (preferred) or having a light source sufficient to illuminate
the flag so it is recognizable as such by the casual observer.
be the position of the flag when displayed from a staff in a church,
public auditorium or other public meeting place, whether indoors
or outdoors, on platform, or on the floor at ground level?
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, public auditorium or meeting place, the
flag 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. Prior to the Flag Code
changes in 1976, the display procedure was somewhat different. Now,
the staffed flag should always be placed to the right of the speaker
(observer's left) without regard to a platform or floor level.
the penalties for the physical desecration of the flag?
There are currently no penalties for the physical desecration of
the flag. The American Legion and other members of the Citizens
Flag Alliance continue working toward securing a constitutional
amendment to protect the flag from physical desecration.