JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas — From front yards to the top of the White House, people have flown U.S. flags as emblems for sacrifice and independence. But to honor Old Glory, they must display it with proper etiquette year-round.
According to Title 4 of the U.S. Code, it is “universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open,” but if properly lit during hours of darkness, “the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day.”
American flags displayed at home should follow standard etiquette.
On walls, windows or doors, they should be hung vertically with the union, or the blue field and white stars, on top and to an observer’s left. They should also be hung vertically if suspended over the middle of a street, with the union to the north on an east and west street, or to the east on a north and south street.
If mounted or planted on the ground, U.S. flags must be to the right of another flag or, if in a line of other flags, in the front and center of that line. If projected on a staff horizontally or at angle from a window sill, balcony or front of a building, the union should be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half-staff.
Flags on vehicles should be placed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right-side fender.
Additionally, other flags should never fly above the U.S. flag.
“Ensure that the U.S. flag never touches the ground or anything beneath it,” Tech Sgt. Joseph Capado, Joint Base San Antonio Honor Guard NCO in charge, said. “Do not display the flag in inclement weather or if it shows any signs of wear and tear.” Tattered national flags should be destroyed with dignity.
“The form of disposal that we use is burning, which is done by the Veterans of Foreign Affairs (office) because they have an authorized burn facility,” Master Sgt. Nidia Hodge, JBSA Honor Guard superintendent, said. “People can bring flags to us or contact their nearest VFW post.”
“The U.S. flag is a representation of our great nation past and present, and it’s a symbol of our freedom to which many Americans fought hard and made ultimate sacrifices, so fly it with pride and in accordance with the rules,” Capado said.
For a complete listing of flag display rules, visit http://uscode.house.gov/ and click on “Title 4 — Flag And Seal, Seat of Government, And The States.”
Rules for respecting the flag
No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.
- The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
- The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
- The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
- The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free.
- The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
- The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
- The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.
- The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
- The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.
- No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.