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U.S. Flag Etiquette
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 Comradeship, Patriotism, Community Service

The Flag of the United States of America

(For Texas State Flag Etiquette, click here.)

The laws relating to the flag of the United States of America are found in detail in the
United States Code. Title 4, Chapter 1 pertains to the flag and seal, seat of Government,
and official territorial papers; Section 700, Title 18, Chapter 33 pertains to desecration
of the flag and penalties; Title 36, Chapter 1 pertains to patriotic and national observances.
These laws were supplemented by Executive Orders and Presidential Proclamations. The
United States Congress has created a 56-page booklet entitled "Our Flag," on the history
of the U.S. Flag and its proper display. It is availalble at:

Our post strives to make all citizens aware of the correct procedures for handling,
displaying, and rendering honors to the Flag of the United States. On certian national
holidays, post members set out U.S. flags in front of the Nacogdoches County Courthouse,
Nacogdoches Memorial Hospital (which is dedicated to all veterans), and Oak Grove
Cemetary on Lanana St. (where World War I veterans rest in peace). Post members
have also demonstrated proper disposal procedures for old, worn flags to students at
local schools. Information on obtaining a flag that has been flown over the nation's
capitol is at the bottom of this page.

Flag Etiquette

Presentation of the Flag.

Presentation of the flag during a ceremony should be preceded by a brief talk
emphasizing the importance of the occasion. Following the presentation all present
should salute the flag, recite the pledge of allegiance, and sing the national anthem.

Conduct during playing of the "Star-Spangled Banner," our National Anthem.

During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except
those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the
heart. Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and
hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should
render the military salute at the first note of the anthem and retain this position until
the last note. When the flag is not displayed, those present should face toward the
music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed there.

Pledging allegiance to the Flag of the United States.

All present, except those in uniform, should stand at attention facing the Flag with the
right hand over the heart. Men who are wearing hats should remove the hat with their
right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, so that their hand is positioned over the heart.

The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag,
"I pledge allegiance to the Flag
of the United States of America,
and to the Republic for which it stands,
one Nation under God, indivisible,
with liberty and justice for all."

Showing proper respect to the Flag.

The Flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. The Flag should never touch
anything beneath it, such as the ground or the floor. The Flag itself should never be
used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. The flag should never be festooned,
drawn back, nor up, in folds but always allowed to fall free. Never fly the flag upside
down except as a signal of distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

Raising and lowering the Flag.

The flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously. The flag
of the United States of America is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered. The salute is
held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of music,
whichever is the longest.

Flying the Flag at night.

It is customary to display the Flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on
flagstaffs. The Flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if it is properly illuminated
during the hours of darkness. "Proper illumination" means having a light source
sufficient to light up the flag so it is recognized by the casual observer.

Flying the Flag during rain or other inclement weather.

The Flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except
when an all-weather Flag made of nylon or other non-absorbent material is used.

Displaying or flying other flags with the Flag of the United States.

Other flags should not be placed in a position above or in superior prominence to
the Flag of the United States. The flag of the United States 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. However, flags of
other nations may be displayed at the same height as the Flag of the United States,
in accordance with international rules.

Displaying the Flag other than from a staff.

The Flag should be displayed vertically and suspended so that its folds will fall free
as though it was placed on a staff. The stripes may be displayed either horizontally
or vertically against a wall or in a window. In such a case, the union (the stars on a
blue field) should be uppermost and to the observer's left. When hung over a
sidewalk on a rope extending from a building to a pole, the union stars are always
away from the building. When vertically hung over the center of the street, the flag
always has the union stars to the north in an east/west street, and to the east in a
north/south street.

Positioning the Flag on a speaker's platform or in a public meeting place.

On a speaker's platform, the Flag should be displayed above and behind the speaker.
When displayed at the front of a public auditorium or meeting room, the Flag should
be placed prominently in front of the audience. It should be placed at the speaker's
right side as the speaker faces the audience; any other flag should be placed to the
left of the speaker (the audience's right). The flag should not be used as a drapery,
or for covering a speakers desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general.
Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe
of the bunting should be on the top.

Flying the Flag at half staff.

The half-staffed Flag is a sign that the nation mourns the death of a person or persons.
Only the President of the United States or the Governor of a state may order the Flag
to be half staffed. On Memorial Day, the Flag is also half staffed from sunrise to noon
and then raised to full staff from noon until sunset. A state flag or other flag should be
lowered or removed when the Flag of the United States is at half staff. To place the
flag at half staff, hoist it to the peak for an instant and lower it to a position half way
between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag is to be raised again to the peak
for a moment before it is lowered.

Wearing a Flag patch on a jacket.

Only members of the military, firefighters, police officers, or patriotic organizations may
wear a Flag patch on their uniform. Use of a Flag patch on costumes, athletic clothing,
or casual wear is inappropriate. To wear our country's flag properly, the field of stars is
worn closest to your heart. Further, when worn on the sleeve of a military uniform, the
flag should appear to be advancing and not retreating. Thus, if your patch is to be worn
on your LEFT sleeve, use a left flag (normal). For patches worn on your RIGHT sleeve,
use a "right" or "reversed field" flag.

Folding the Flag.

1. Two persons, facing each other, hold the flag waist high and horizontally between them.

2. The lower striped section is folded, lengthwise, over the blue field. Hold bottom to
top and edges together securely.

3. Fold the flag again, lengthwise, folded edge to open edge.

4. A triangular fold is started along the length of the flag, from the end to the heading
by bringing the striped corner of the folded edge to meet the open edge.

5. The outer point is turned inward parallel with the open edge, forming a second triangle.

6. Repeat the triangular folding until the entire length of the flag is folded.

7. When the flag is completely folded only the triangular blue field should be visible.

Sizes of Flags.

The size of the flag is determined by the exposed height of the flagpole from which it
is flying. The only consideration is for the flag to be in proper proportion to its pole.
Flags which fly from angled poles on homes and those which are displayed on standing
poles in offices and other indoor displays are usually either 3’ x 5’ or 4’ x 6’. Color
guards usually carry flags measuring 4’ x 6’. Other recommended sizes follow:

20 4 x 6
25 5 x 8
40 6 x 10
50 8 x 12
60 10 x 15
70 12 x 18
90 15 x 25
125 20 x 30
200 30 x 40
250 40 x 50

Obtaining a Burial Flag for a Veteran.

Any honorably discharged veteran is entitled to a burial flag. The funeral director, as
part of the services, will make the necessary arrangements for the family on behalf of
the veteran. The flag may be used to cover the casket and it is presented to the family
as a keepsake. The local office of the Department of Veterans’ Affairs can also provide
information on the procedure for obtaining a flag for a deceased veteran as well as
local Veteran's Service Officers.

Cleaning a soiled flag and disposing of a worn flag.

A Flag may be washed or dry cleaned, dependent on the type of material. When a Flag has served its useful purpose,
it should be destroyed, preferably by burning. Patriotic organizations, such as the American Legion and the Veterans
of Foreign Wars, can provide training on holding a proper Flag disposal ceremony.

Where to fly the flag.

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 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.

When to fly the flag.

The flag can be flown every day from sunrist to sunset and at night if illuminated properly.
Designated flag display days are:

New Year's Day January 1st
Inauguration Day January 20th
Lincoln's Birthday February 12th
Washington's Birthday (President's Day) 3rd Monday in February
Easter Sunday variable
Mother's Day 2nd Sunday in May
Peace Officers Memorial Day (half-staff) May 15th
Armed Forces Day 3rd Saturday in May
Memorial Day (half-staff until noon) Last Monday in May
Flag Day June 14th
Independence Day July 4th
Labor Day First Monday in September
Patriot Day (half-staff) September 11th
POW/MIA Recognition Day 3rd Friday in September
Constitution Day (Citizenship Day) September 17th
Columbus Day 2nd Monday in October
Navy Day October 27th
Veterans Day November 11th
Thanksgiving Day 4th Thursday in November
National Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (half-staff) December 7th
Christmas Day December 25th

And such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States; the
birthdays of states (date of admission); and on state holidays.

Owing a U.S. or Texas State Flag.

If you wish to own a U.S. Flag which has flown over the U.S. Capitol, follow this link to
contact U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison.

If you wish to own a Texas State Flag which has flown over the State Capitol in Austin,
contact either State Representative Wayne Christian or the Sergeant At Arms Office of
the Texas House of Representatives at the following addresses:

Representative Wayne Christian
204 Houston
Center, TX 75935
(936) 598-7580
(936) 564-0051 Fax

Sergeant at Arms
Texas House of Representatives
P.O. Box 2910
Austin, TX 78768-2910

The words of the “The Star-Spangled Banner
by Francis Scott Key, September 1814
(Sung to the tune “To Anacreon in Heaven”)

“0 say! can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
gave proof thro’ the night that our flag was still there.
0 say! does that Star-Spangled Banner yet wave
0’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

“On the shore, dimly seen thro’ the mist of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream.
‘Tis the Star-Spangled Banner. 0 long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

“And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph doth wave
0’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

“O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and war’s desolation,
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n-rescued land
Praise the pow’r that hath made and preserv’d us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto, ‘In God is Our Trust.’
And the Star-Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”