Rules for Displaying the American Flag

Familiarize yourself with the rules for displaying the American Flag so that you can show your patriotism and pride while being in compliance with the US Flag Code.

National flags are the symbol of a nation, it represents a country everyday by being on top of the pole, fighting the rays of the sun until the darkness reigns again. It displays the insignia of a united and guided sovereign state.

There are hundreds of designs of the national flag, it comes in various shapes and colors which actually has deep meanings symbolizing the country. Some examples of elements and designs in flags include some shapes such as, circle, stripes, crosses, and stars, squares and rectangles.

It was known that many countries which share their history with another country through culture, ethnicity, religion in history have similarities in their national flag design. It is not an impossible occurrence for two or more countries to have similar flags. Monaco and Indonesia, for example, have extremely similar flags. Both flags have red and white bars and the only difference is their aspect ratio.

Here is an interesting question. What rules do you know about displaying American flag or other countries’ flags?

Yes, there are many things that people do not know about flags. The stories behind the symbols and the history behind the colors. However, in this article, we are going to talk about a specific flag – the American flag, how to properly display and take care of it.

The American flag

The American flag is the name given to the official flag of the United States of America. It is the present flag of the United States which holds a monolithic history.

During the American revolution in 1776, the first ever unofficial flag called the Union flag or Continental Colours was hoisted at Massachusetts. It was a flag that had thirteen stripes horizontally in a vibrant consecutive red white or blue color. It was made to fly at forts and on naval vessels, since it was the flag of the continent army.

On June 14, 1777, the official flag was approved at last by the Continental Congress. Even though the layout of the stars are left undefined, many patterns have become a great idea for flag makers.

Fast forward, Charles Thompson, believes that the symbolism behind the colors of the American flag are for purity and innocence (white), hardiness and valor (red), vigilance, perseverance and justice (blue).

What you need to know

You might be wanting to show off our flag that you love and show how high your patriotism is. I understand how you feel, however, you should keep in mind that you should be aware of the rules and proper ways of displaying American flag first.

In 1942, the US Congress created the US Flag Code which has things you need to know about the proper care and etiquette the flag needs.

Taking care of the American flag

Indeed, there are rules to be followed in taking care of every National flag. The officials are strict in rules especially in displaying American flag.

The Federal Flag code known as Public Law 94-344 mentions rules in handling and displaying the American flag properly. Clearly the Federal code wants to highlight to everyone that the flag is the living symbol. Find out more from

General flag display is the act of displaying American flag in public places only from morning to afternoon is a traditional guideline. However, hanging the flag can be all day long till night only if it is provided with light enough to brighten up the flag. It should never be damaged by any means including weather so during rains, storms and snow, it should not be displayed.

It should not be placed just anywhere. However, displaying American flag near the buildings of public institutes and schools is allowed. Still, it should be raised in a ceremonious way.

Hanging of the American flag

When displaying American flag, it should be either vertically or horizontally against the wall. It is the flag’s own right to be at the observer’s left. On the other hand, when the flag is displayed in the window it should be positioned in the same exact way.

The flag should never be hung in inappropriate fashions like backwards, or upside down. Furthermore, it should never be dipped to any person or anything as it is a form of disrespect.

Just like being dipped, the American flag should also never touch the floor, water and ground. If it did accidentally, it is only proper to hang it again only when it is back in it’s best condition.

It is also a strict rule that no one should display another nation’s flag equally, or above the flag of the United States because it is every flag’s right to be honored in their own country.

Half-Staff and Half-Mast

Now, there is a huge difference between a half-staff and a half-mast which can cause confusion sometimes. They may be used consecutively or interchangeably, but half mast actually means the flag flew on a ship’s mast. Meanwhile, half-staff means the flag is flown on any type of land.

When the nation is in mourning state, for example if a government official died or at events like Memorial day, the flag is flown in half-staff for remembrance and respect. It is hoisting the flag one half distanced from the bottom and top of the flagpole.

Fun facts about the American flag

Now that you know how and when to hoist the American flag, you might as well want to know some interesting facts about it.

First off, did you know that five of the American flags made it not just in another country, but on the moon? Neil Armstrong did go to the moon with an American Flag but he is not the only one. On five of the Apollo moon missions, 17, 16, 15, 12 and 14 also went with astronauts placing american flags on the moon.

Another fun fact, there have been 27 versions of the American flag. Every time a state is added another star is added to the flag. So now it has 13 stripes and 50 stars.

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