The Community Post

Display & Care of the Flag

There are rules in place for handling and displaying Old Glory, known as the Flag Code.


Compiled by the U.S. House of Representa­tives’ Office of the Law Revision Counsel, these guidelines ensure that you display the flag in the most respectful manner.

DO place the U.S. flag to the right when displayed with any other flag. If part of a group of local or organizati­onal flags, the American flag should be placed in the center and/or highest point. Internatio­nal flags should be flown at the same height.

DON’T use the flag to cover cushions, as part of a costume, or for advertisin­g purposes. Military personnel, police officers, firemen and patriotic organizati­ons may use a flag patch. DO follow presidenti­al or governor’s orders to fly the flag at half staff. These orders are made after national tragedy or the death of an important person. The flag should be hoisted to its peak before being lowered to half staff. Before it is lowered for the day, the flag should again be raised briefly to its peak. DON’T attach anything to a flag. The flag also shouldn’t be used as a receptacle of any kind.

DO place the flag to a speaker’s right as they face the audience in an indoor meeting or other gathering.

DON’T display a flag with the blue area to the right when looking in from any window. The flag should be on display for those who are outside.

DO position a flag over the middle of a street with the blue field of stars pointing to the north on streets going east and west. On streets going north and south, the blue area should be to the east.

DON’T place the blue area over the right shoulder of the deceased when used to cover a casket. The flag should also never be lowered into a grave, or be in contact with the ground.

DO hoist the flag out with the blue area first when suspending it on a rope over a sidewalk.

DON’T carry the flag to the left when marching in a procession with other flags. The U.S. flag should be held to the right if being carried by itself. If among a line of other flags, the Star-Spangled Banner should be carried front and center.


Is your flag dirty or showing a small amount of wear and tear? That doesn’t mean it has to be retired.

In fact, the Flag Code encourages us to mend or clean banners when necessary. Here’s how.


Allowing your flag to touch the ground is a sign of disrespect, and it might also leave behind a nasty smudge. If that happens to you, address the situation immediatel­y so you don’t end up with a lasting mark on the banner. Always use cold water and a mild detergent, and wash it by hand. Once you’ve scrubbed away the grime, lay your flag flat to dry rather than hanging it up, since the material may stretch out of shape. You’ll also lower the chances of any colors bleeding into one another.


Dirt, air pollutants, salt and debris aren’t the only worries. Take regular opportunit­ies to closely inspect the banner for any holes or fraying caused by the flag’s constant exposure to wind. If you employ an all-weather flag, it’s particular­ly important to do these evaluation­s after big storms. Even very small imperfecti­ons can rapidly expand into major holes in bad weather conditions. At the same time, frequent modificati­ons can change the flag’s shape and appearance — so always proceed with great caution.


Unfortunat­ely, none of this will keep your flag flying forever — in particular if you display it rain or shine. Government estimates have placed the expected lifespan for the average cotton or nylon flag at about 90 days, based on daily display from dawn to dusk with no inclement weather. Flags flown 24 hours a day might last one fourth as long before they begin to fade and fray.

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