The National Flag Conference first introduced the National Flag Code in 1923. Congress followed in 1942 and passed a resolution enacting the Flag Code. The code dictates how to display the flag and the ceremonious way in which the flag should be raised. The National Anthem and the Pledging of Allegiance are part of the protocol. Individual states and the federal government for the District of Columbia decide the penalties for misuse of the Unites States flag.

Choose the flag and pole size. The Flag Code gives recommendations for the flagpole height for different sized flags. Usually the best-sized flag for outdoor home use is a 3-by-5 foot flag. For this size, you should use a 15 foot pole.

Carry the flag respectfully and make sure the flag does not touch the ground or floor. The flag should be neatly folded and have the union stars displayed on top. If the flag is marched past you, you should turn to face it and salute it until it has passed.

Raise the flag briskly. Every one except people in uniform should face the flag and stand at attention.

Salute the flag appropriately. Everyone should hold their right hand over their heart. Men should remove their hats with right hand and hold it close to their left shoulder leaving the right hand over their heart. People in uniform should perform a military salute. Foreigners should stand at attention. U.S. citizens should hold the salute from the first note to the last note of the National Anthem.

Recite the Pledge of Allegiance while holding your salute. People in uniform should remain silent facing the flag.

Make sure that the U.S. flag is the topmost flag if there are several flags on the same pole. Also make sure that the other flags are smaller than the U.S. flag.


  • All the military branches have their own flag codes and etiquette. Display the American flag from sunrise to sunset. If you are displaying it during the night, you need to illuminate it. If it starts to rain or snow, leave the flag flying if it's an all-weather flag. You should always raise the U.S. flag first and lower it last, if dealing with several flags.