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U.S. Flag Etiquette


WHAT GOVERNS THE NATIONAL FLAG? Chapter 1, Title 4, United States Code governs the use/display of the National Flag for federal agencies and provides guidance for others. It should be noted that each state Attorney General has the responsibility to set flag policy, including the National flag, for their respective states.

WHAT IS THE PROPER MANNER FOR DISPLAY OF THE FLAG AFTER SUNDOWN? Section 174(a), Chapter 1, Title 4, United States Code states that the flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

HOW DO YOU DISPOSE OF A TORN, SOILED OR DAMAGED FLAG? Section 175(k), Chapter 1, Title 4, United States Code states the flag, when it is in such a condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.
WHAT IS THE INTERMENT FLAG? Interment flags are provided by the United States Government and used to cover the caskets of deceased military personnel. They are identical in color and pattern to all other National flags and are 5′ hoist by 9’6″ fly.

WHAT IS THE GOLD STAR MOTHER’S FLAG? This flag is an unofficial term referring to the gold star version of the Service Flag.


–The US Code states “no part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.”
–The US Code does not address the positioning of the flag patch. It is appropriate to wear an American flag patch on the left or right sleeve. When worn on the left sleeve, the union would appear towards the front and the stripes would run horizontally toward the back. When worn on the right sleeve, it is considered proper to reverse the design so that the union is at the observer’s right to suggest that the flag is flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward.
— Since the law does not specifically address the positioning of the patch, a decision is left to the discretion of the organization prescribing the wear. As many states and cities have ordinances pertaining to the use of the flag, you may wish to contact the Attorney General of your state or the City Attorney’s office regarding this matter.

WEAR OF THE FLAG PATCH BY ARMY PERSONNEL. HQDA policy has been changed to authorize all soldiers throughout the force permanent wear of the full-color U.S. Flag cloth replica (approximately 2″x3″) on utility uniforms. The patch is worn on BDUs, Desert BDUs, the Maternity BDU, the Cold Weather Coat (Field Jacket), Aircrew Battle Dress Uniform, and the Combat Vehicle Crewman Uniform and Jacket (Cold Weather). DA policy states that the patch will be sewn 1/2 inch below the right shoulder seam of the utility uniform. When the shoulder sleeve insignia-former wartime service (SSI-FWTS) is worn on the right shoulder of the utility uniform, the U.S. Flag insignia is placed 1/8 inch below the SSI-FWTS. The cloth replica is worn so that the star field faces forward or to the flag’s own right. When worn on the right sleeve, it is considered proper to reverse the design so that the union is at the observer’s right to suggest that the flag is flying in the breeze as the wearer moves forward.

WHAT IS THE ORDER FOR PRECEDENCE FOR DISPLAY OF STATE FLAGS? State flags are normally displayed in the order of admittance to the State of the Union. However, they may be displayed in alphabetical order.

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