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FLAG ETIQUETTE… The Simple Do’s and Don’ts

July 3, 2010

Protocol International is back from a much-needed break.  We took time off to develop new workshops for clients, re-design the look of our newsletter (The Polished Professional), and we are currently working on the new Protocol website.  I hope you enjoy the new look and register for our upcoming workshops and classes coming in the Fall.  I truly missed YOU, our readers but wanted to give you more substance and opportunities to work with us.

With the 4th of July holiday approaching this weekend flag etiquette was the first thing that came to mind.  As you hoist the red, white, and blue and show your patriotism, here are a few helpful do’s and don’ts to help prevent you from making any missteps.

Remember we want to hear from you!  Tell us what you think about the new look, find us on Facebook and most importantly contact us with any questions you have about etiquette and protocol.  We are your resource.

Have a wonderful 4th of July

Cheryl Walker-Robertson
Protocol International

As the Fourth of July, Independence Day, approaches let’s discuss Flag Etiquette.  Don’t get caught and please don’t get arrested for Flag infractions this weekend or any weekend!  When flying or displaying the flag of the United States of America there are a number of rules for correct flag etiquette.  Here are the top 5 Do’s and the top 5 Don’ts.  These are standards of respect for the US Flag.


  1. The flag of the United States of America should be displayed only from sunrise to sunset unless the flag is illuminated.
  2. When the US flag is suspended across a street, it should hang vertically with the stars to the north or east.
  3. When placed on a Podium the flag should be placed on the speaker’s right or the staging area. Other flags should be placed to the left.
  4. When grouped with other national flags, all the flags should be of equal size and flown on separate staffs of the same height. International law forbids a nation’s flag to be flown above any other nation’s flag during peacetime.
  5. When flown with flags of states, communities, or societies on separate flag poles which are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor – to its own right.
    – The other flags may be smaller but none may be larger.
    – No other flag ever should be placed above it.
    – The flag of the United States is always the first flag raised and the last
    to be lowered.


  1. The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
  2. The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speaker’s 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.
  3. The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use.
  4. When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
8 Comments leave one →
  1. Suze permalink
    June 11, 2011 4:37 AM

    Should the flag be taken in in bad weather?

    • mrsarn permalink
      July 12, 2014 2:28 AM

      Not necessarily, but it should not be left out after dusk. The flag can fly during inclement weather as long as you can be reasonably certain that it will not be blown off of its pole or mounting and fall to the ground.

  2. dont need to know :) permalink
    September 19, 2012 9:31 PM


  3. Lyle Fry permalink
    June 22, 2013 6:50 PM

    When a state flag is posted along with organizational flags where should it be posted with regard to the audience looking at the flag staffs?

  4. Vic Placeres permalink
    September 18, 2013 7:59 PM

    ? We have some small flags (5X9) that are displayed on our mailboxes during special holiday periods . Do they need to be illuminated at night?

    • mrsarn permalink
      July 12, 2014 2:27 AM


      • mrsarn permalink
        July 12, 2014 2:29 AM

        Or…if you do not have the ability to illuminate them through the night, you need to fold them up and bring them in at night.

  5. March 4, 2015 10:54 AM

    Fantastic post. Love all your thoughts on this. I absolutely love this post!!! Great job 🙂

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