How To Use Flag

How To Use Flag

How To Use Flag

A Comprehensive Guide to the Proper Use of the American Flag in Standard American English


The American flag, a symbol of national pride, unity, and freedom, is a cherished emblem that holds a significant place in American society. As such, it is imperative to handle and use the flag with the utmost respect and adherence to the established guidelines. This article provides a comprehensive overview of the proper use of the American flag, including its display, etiquette, and symbolism, ensuring that we honor this national treasure appropriately.

Display of the American Flag

Outdoor Display

  1. Ground Display: When flown from a staff on the ground, the flag should be suspended with the union (blue field with 50 stars) at the peak. The flag should be at least 3 feet above the ground.

  2. Vertical Display: When displayed vertically, the union should be at the viewer’s upper left hand corner.

  3. Horizontal Display: When flown horizontally, the union should be on the observer’s left as they face the flag.

  4. Rope and Cleat Display: When displayed using a rope and cleat arrangement, the union should be at the peak of the rope when the flag is fully extended.

Indoor Display

  1. Flagpole Display: When flown from a staff indoors, the flag should be placed on the right side of an assembly or meeting room, as viewed from the audience.

  2. Wall Display: The flag may be hung flat against a wall, with the union at the observer’s upper left hand corner.

  3. Desk Display: A small flag may be displayed on a desk or table, with the union at the viewer’s upper left hand corner.

Other Display Guidelines

  1. Avoid Touching the Ground: The flag should never touch the ground or be allowed to become soiled.

  2. Night Display: When displayed at night, the flag should be illuminated to ensure it is visible.

  3. Inclement Weather: The flag should not be flown during inclement weather, such as heavy rain, snow, or high winds, unless it is an all-weather flag.

Etiquette for Handling the American Flag

  1. Respectful Handling: The flag should be handled with care and respect at all times.

  2. Proper Folding: When not in use, the flag should be folded according to the traditional method.

  3. Disposal: When a flag is no longer fit for display, it should be disposed of in a respectful manner, such as burning it in a dignified ceremony.

  4. Patriotism Display: Displaying the flag in a respectful manner is a patriotic gesture that demonstrates pride in the nation.

Symbolism of the American Flag

  1. Stars and Stripes: The 50 stars represent the 50 states, while the 13 stripes symbolize the 13 original colonies.

  2. Red: The red stripes represent hardiness and valor.

  3. White: The white stripes represent purity and innocence.

  4. Blue: The blue field of the union represents vigilance, perseverance, and justice.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. What is the proper way to fold the American flag?

  • Step 1: Fold the lower left corner over to meet the upper right corner.
  • Step 2: Fold the upper left corner over to meet the lower right corner.
  • Step 3: Repeat steps 1 and 2, creating a square shape.
  • Step 4: Trifold the square into a triangle, with the blue field on the outside.

2. How should I dispose of an old American flag?

  • Preferred Method: Burn the flag in a dignified ceremony, ensuring it is done in a respectful and appropriate manner.
  • Alternative Method: Contact local veterans’ organizations or government offices for flag disposal guidelines.

3. Is it disrespectful to wear the American flag on clothing?

  • While using the flag on clothing is not illegal, some etiquette experts believe it is disrespectful, as the flag is meant to represent the nation as a whole and not be used as a fashion statement.

4. What are the penalties for desecrating the American flag?

  • In most jurisdictions, there are no specific laws against desecrating the flag. However, the Supreme Court has ruled that the burning of the flag is protected by the First Amendment right to free speech.


The American flag is a powerful symbol of our nation and its values. By understanding and adhering to the proper use and etiquette associated with the flag, we can ensure that it remains a cherished emblem that unites and inspires us all. May we always treat the flag with the respect and reverence it deserves.


  1. United States Flag Code (4 U.S. Code Chapter 1)
  2. The American Legion Flag Etiquette Guide
  3. National Flag Foundation website:

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