How To Treat The American Flag

How To Treat The American Flag

How To Treat The American Flag

The Proper Treatment of the American Flag: A Comprehensive Guide

The American flag, a symbol of unity, patriotism, and freedom, holds a special place in our collective heart. As a nation, we cherish our flag and treat it with the utmost respect and reverence. Understanding and adhering to the proper treatment of the American flag is essential for all citizens and visitors alike. This comprehensive guide will delve into the intricacies of flag etiquette, from its display to its disposal, ensuring that we honor and preserve this cherished symbol.

Displaying the American Flag

  • Orientation: The flag should always be displayed flat or extended horizontally. Never let it touch the ground or hang upside down.

  • Height: When flown from a staff, the flag should be the highest object on the flagpole. No other flags should be flown above it.

  • Location: The flag should be displayed at the front of a building, on the right side as you face it. If displayed on a wall, it should be at the center of the wall.

  • Time: The flag should be flown from sunrise to sunset, unless it is illuminated at night. In inclement weather, it should be taken down and stored properly.

  • Indoor Display: When displayed indoors, the flag should be placed in a prominent location, well-lit and free from dust or damage.

  • Order of Flags: When displaying multiple flags together, the American flag should always be flown above all other flags. Arranged from left to right, the American flag should be followed by state flags, local flags, and foreign flags.

Respecting the American Flag

  • Salute: The American flag should be saluted during the Pledge of Allegiance. Face the flag, stand at attention, and place your right hand over your heart.

  • Handling: Treat the flag with care and respect. Handle it gently and never use it as a tablecloth or for any inappropriate purpose.

  • Repairs: If the flag becomes torn or damaged, it should be repaired immediately. Use blue thread for minor repairs and white thread for major repairs.

  • Disposal: When a flag is no longer suitable for display, it should be disposed of with dignity and respect. The preferred method is to burn it in a ceremony or at a designated disposal facility.

Specific Situations

  • Memorial Day and Veterans Day: On Memorial Day, the flag is flown at half-staff until noon, then raised to full-staff. On Veterans Day, it is flown at full-staff.

  • Mourning: When a member of the armed forces dies in service, the flag should be flown at half-staff for 30 days. It is lowered to half-staff and then raised back to full-staff.

  • Foreign Flag Display: When displaying a foreign flag alongside the American flag, the American flag should be on the right side as you face it. Both flags should be flown at the same height.

FAQs about Treating the American Flag

Q: What is the proper way to fold the American flag?
A: The American flag should be folded in a precise triangular shape, following the traditional method. Detailed instructions can be found online or in flag etiquette manuals.

Q: Can I display a faded or torn flag?
A: No, a faded or torn flag should not be displayed. It is considered disrespectful to fly a damaged flag. Instead, it should be repaired or disposed of properly.

Q: Can I fly the American flag from my car?
A: Yes, but there are certain guidelines to follow. The flag should be mounted securely, not flapping loosely. It should be displayed on a staff or bracket and not directly attached to the vehicle.

Q: What if the American flag touches the ground?
A: If the American flag touches the ground, it should be cleaned immediately. Hand wash it with cold water and mild detergent, then lay it flat to dry.

Q: Can I use the American flag for commercial purposes?
A: No, it is illegal to use the American flag for commercial purposes without permission from the U.S. government.


Treating the American flag with respect and reverence is a testament to our patriotism and our commitment to the ideals it represents. By adhering to the guidelines outlined in this comprehensive guide and answering common FAQs, we can ensure that this cherished symbol continues to be a source of pride, unity, and inspiration for generations to come. It is our duty as citizens to protect and preserve the American flag, ensuring that it remains a beacon of hope and a symbol of our nation’s indomitable spirit.


  • United States Flag Code (Title 4, Chapter 1)
  • The American Legion Flag Etiquette Guide
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars Flag Etiquette Guide
  • National Flag Foundation Website

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