American Flag Etiquette

Mike Buss, Deputy Director, Americanism Division, The American Legion explains how to properly handle an American flag.

Can the U.S. flag be displayed in inclement weather?

The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, with the exception of an all-weather (nylon or other non-absorbent material) flag. However, most flags are made of all-weather materials.

What is the significance of displaying the flag at half-staff?

This gesture is a sign to indicate the nation mourns the death of an individual(s), such as death of the president or former president, vice president, Supreme Court justice, member of Congress, secretary of an executive or military department, etc. Only the president or a state governor may order the flag to be displayed at half-staff. The honor and reverence accorded this solemn act is quickly becoming eroded by those individuals and agencies that display the flag at half-staff on inappropriate occasions without proper authority to do so.

When the flag is not flown from a staff, how should it be displayed?

It should be displayed vertically, whether indoors or out, and suspended so that its folds fall free as though the flag were staffed. The stripes may be displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, and the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right (that is, to the observer’s left). When displayed in a window of a home or a place of business, the flag should be displayed in the same way (that is, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street).

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