For Kids: Flag Etiquette

1 U.S. Flag Etiquette

Official etiquette for the use and display of the American flag as a national symbol was first set down by the National Flag Code, which was adopted June 14, 1923. On Dec. 22, 1942, the rules were approved by Congress and became federal law in the United States of America.

2 Flying the Flag

It is proper flag etiquette to fly the flag from sunrise to sunset. If displayed at night, the flag must be lit. Don’t fly the flag on rainy days or other inclement weather. Always place the union (the blue field) at the peak of the staff (top end of the flagstaff or flagpole) to display the stars and stripes in the proper way.

3 Carrying the Flag

Flag rules dictate that in a parade, you should carry the flag at the center of the front rank. Never allow the flag to touch the ground or drag along the ground. Never dip the flag as a show of respect to a person. Always protect the flag from possible damage. If the flag is damaged or severely worn, remove it from display and dispose of it by burning.

4 Wearing the Flag

American flag etiquette dictates that you do not wear the flag as a hat or as a piece of clothing. Don’t wear it as a team uniform or as part of a uniform. Small pins or buttons representing the flag can be worn by persons in uniform, such as police officers or military veterans.

5 The Flag at Half-Staff

U.S. flag code says to lower the flag of the United States to half-staff to show respect for the death of an important individual, such as a president, or solemnity for a tragic event. First raise the flag to its full height and then bring it slowly down to a position halfway up the mast or flagpole.

6 Emergencies

In situations of distress, signal your emergency by flying the flag upside down. This is the only occasion on which it is proper to display the flag upside down.

7 Banners and Signs

Don’t attach any messages, signs, symbols or caricatures to the flag, or use the flag as part of a commercial display. Never use the flag to advertise. The flag must fly above any state flags or other banners that are hoisted on the same flagstaff.

8 Flying the Flag at School

At school, the flag should be flown in front of the principal building. Raise the flag before classes begin in the morning and lower it at the end of the day. Often the Pledge of Allegiance is said at the beginning of school days as well.

9 Holidays

The flag is often flown as a symbol during holiday celebrations for Independence Day or the Fourth of July, Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day, and, of course, Flag Day on June 14th. Oftentimes at these festivities, the Star-Spangled Banner will also be sung as the USA flag is being flown.

Founder/president of the innovative reference publisher The Archive LLC, Tom Streissguth has been a self-employed business owner, independent bookseller and freelance author in the school/library market. Holding a bachelor's degree from Yale, Streissguth has published more than 100 works of history, biography, current affairs and geography for young readers.