Since June 14, 1777, when the Continental Congress passed the Flag Act, the United States of America has been represented by a flag comprised of 13 stripes of alternating colors of red and white with stars set on a field of blue. Treating the flag with proper respect shows honor for the country. Although most people realize there is a particular way of hanging the flag, few people know exactly what the proper protocol is.

Fly the flag horizontally from a staff. Whether you are flying the flag from a pole in front of a building or from the wall, window sill or balcony of a building, place the union (the field of blue with stars) at the peak of the staff. The only time you would not fly it at the peak is when it is being flown at half-staff during times of national mourning. The flag should first be hoisted to the peak of the staff for a second and then lowered to the half-staff position, which is halfway between the top and bottom of the staff. When lowering a flag that has been flown at half-staff, you first raise it to the peak of the staff and then lower it completely.

Hang the flag vertically. If you are hanging it from a rope over a street that runs east to west, then the union should be to the north. If the street runs north and south, the union should be to the east. If you are hanging the flag from a rope that is attached from a house’s window to a pole at the edge of the sidewalk, you hoist the flag out with the union first.

Display the flag during a procession or parade so that the union is at the peak of the staff and the flag is never lower than your head. If there are other flags in the procession, they should be carried on the flag’s right. This is known as the marching right. If there is a line of flags, the United States flag should be in the center in front of the line of flags. Crepe streamers may only be affixed to the flag staff by order of the President of the United States.

Hang the United States flag with other flags--such as state flags--or pennants. If they are on the same staff, the United States flag is placed at the peak. If they are on adjacent staffs, raise the United States flag first, and lower it last. In a grouping of flags, it should be placed at the center and at the highest point.

Display the flag with another flag against a wall on crossed staffs by placing the United States flag toward the flag’s right (the viewer’s left). Its staff should be placed in front of the other flag’s staff. If you are hanging the flag in a window or along the roof of a porch, people from across the street should see the union in the upper left. On a podium, the flag should be displayed on the audience’s right.

Items you will need

  • Flag

  • Staff or pole

  • Hooks