Arts & Entertainment

Guidelines for Properly Displaying the American Flag


MILLBURN, NJ - As the community prepares to celebrate Independence Day, and the Department of Veterans Affairs shares some helpful guidelines for showing respect to the symbol of the nation. Check out this helpful information before you fly the stars and stripes.

Traditional guidelines call for displaying the flag in public only from sunrise to sunset. However, the flag may be displayed at all times if it’s illuminated during darkness. The flag should not be subject to weather damage, so it should not be displayed during rain, snow and wind storms unless it is an all-weather flag.

It should be displayed often, but especially on national and state holidays and special occasions.

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The flag should be displayed on or near the main building of public institutions, schools during school days, and polling places on election days. It should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.

- When carried in procession with other flags the U.S. flag should be either on the marching right (the flag’s right) or to the front and center of the flag line. 

- When displayed on a float in a parade, the flag should be hung from a staff or suspended so it falls free. It should not be draped over a vehicle.

- When displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, the U.S. flag should be on its own right (left to a person facing the wall) and its staff should be in front of the other flag’s staff.

- In a group of flags displayed from staffs, the U.S. flag should be at the center and the highest point.

- When the U.S. flag is displayed other than from a staff, it should be displayed flat, or suspended so that its folds fall free. When displayed over a street, place the union so it faces north or east, depending upon the direction of the street.

- When the U.S. flag is displayed from as projecting from a building, the union of the flag should be placed at the peak of the unless the flag is at half-staff. When suspended from a rope extending from the building on a pole, the flag should be hoisted out, union first from the building.

- When flags of states, cities or organizations are flown on the same staff, the U.S. flag must be at the top (except during church services conducted at sea by Navy chaplains).

The flag should never be draped or drawn back in folds. Draped red, white and blue bunting
should be used for decoration, with the blue at the top and red at the bottom.

The flag may be flown at half-staff to honor a newly deceased federal or state government
official by order of the president or the governor, respectively. 

On Memorial Day, the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon.

Out of respect for the U.S. flag, never:

- dip it for any person or thing, even though state flags, regimental colors and other flags may be dipped as a mark of honor.

- display it with the union down, except as a signal of distress.

- let the flag touch anything beneath it: ground, floor, water, merchandise.

- carry it horizontally, but always aloft.

- fasten or display it in a way that will permit it to be damaged or soiled.

- place anything on the flag, including letters, insignia, or designs of any kind.

- use it for holding anything.

- use it as wearing apparel, bedding or drapery. It should not be used on a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be attached to the uniform of patriotic organizations, military personnel, police officers and firefighters.

- use the flag for advertising or promotion purposes or print it on paper napkins, boxes or anything else intended for temporary use and discard.

During the hoisting or lowering of the flag or when it passes in parade or review, Americans should stand at attention facing the flag and place their right hand over the heart. Uniformed military members render the military salute. Men not in uniform should remove any headdress and hold it with their right hand at their left shoulder, the hand resting over the heart. Those who are not U.S. citizens should stand at attention.

When the flag is worn out or otherwise no longer a fitting emblem for display, it should be
destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

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