Three Ways of Displaying the U.S. Flag

Treat Old Glory the way you would treat a honored veteran.

Displaying an American flag is a sign of strong patriotic feelings. As the symbol of a living nation, the flag should be treated with respect and honor like an old soldier. The rules and customs governing the display of the United States flag are found in the document known as the Flag Code.

1 Flag Code

A U.S. Flag should never be used as clothing.

President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Flag Code into law on June 22, 1942. The law formalized recommendations made by the National Flag Conference in 1923. It provides rules for displaying, storing and retiring a flag. For example, an American flag should never touch the ground, get dirty or be used as clothing, drapery or bedding. A worn-out flag should be destroyed in a dignified manner, such as private incineration -- never tossed in the garbage.

2 Wall or Window

Flags aren't always displayed outdoors. A flag hung from a wall should be displayed flat. It can be displayed horizontally or vertically. The union, or blue area, should be placed at the top and to the viewer's left. When displayed in a window, the union should be to viewer's left when seen from the street.

3 Building Exterior

The union of the U.S. Flag should be at the peak of the staff.

The flagpole doesn't always have to be on the ground. Sometimes it is attached horizontally or at an angle to a wall, windowsill or balcony. A flagstaff in this postion is treated just like one on the ground. The flag should be hoisted to the top of the staff with the union at the peak. If the president orders the flag lowered to half-staff, flags displayed from a building should also be lowered.

4 Over A Street

Flags are sometimes displayed over city streets during patriotic holidays such as the Fourth of July. A flag hung over a street should be hung vertically. The position of the union is dictated by the orientation of the street. Over a street that runs east and west, the union faces to the north. When it is hanging over a street that runs north and south, the union should face east.

Frank B. Chavez III has been a professional writer since 2006. His articles have appeared on numerous websites including WitchVox and Spectrum Nexus as well as in the e-magazine Gods and Empires. He has his associate degree with an emphasis in theater arts from Chabot College, where he received the theater department's Joeray Madrid Award for Excellence in Dramaturgy.