As a patriotic American, it’s important that you take some time to understand the rules regarding displaying the American flag respectfully. The full list of rules is outlined in the US Flag Code.

Do you necessarily need to lower the Flag at sunset?

It’s not a hard rule. The flag code mentions that it’s a “universal custom” to fly the flag from dawn to dusk. However, the code makes an exception by stating that you can fly the flag for 24 hours a day to achieve a patriotic effect as long as you make sure the flag is well lit during nighttime.

When should you fly the flag?

Section 6 of the code states that the flag should be flown every day. But it goes on to emphasize that the flag be especially flown on the following special occasions:

  • Armed Forces Day
  • Christmas
  • Columbus Day
  • Constitution Day
  • Easter
  • Father's Day
  • Flag Day
  • Inauguration Day
  • Independence Day
  • Labor Day
  • Lincoln's birthday
  • Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
  • Memorial Day
  • Mother's Day
  • National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day
  • Navy Day
  • New Year's Day
  • State holidays
  • States' dates of admission
  • Thanksgiving
  • Veterans Day
  • Washington's birthday

The code also includes “such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States.”

When are you allowed to display the flag upside down?

It is allowed to fly the American flag with the blue field of stars down only to call attention to distress in circumstances of extreme danger to life and property.

Another important rule related to the one above is the one that states that the American flag should fly more prominently than other flags on US soil. There are two exceptions to this rule. The main one says the UN flag can be the most prominent in the New York UN headquarters. The other exception is church flags that may fly most prominently during church service done by naval chaplains while at sea.

Can someone prohibit you from flying the flag?

The 2005 Freedom to Display the American Flag Act became law in 2006. The law prohibits anyone—including a residential real estate management group, housing co-op, or condo board—from restricting your right to display the American flag on your property provided the display is reasonable and complies with federal law.

What are the rules for flying the flag half-staff?

Days on which the American flag is flown half-staff include Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15), Patriot Day (September 11), and Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (December 7). The flag is flown at half-staff till noon on Memorial Day. At noon, it’s raised to full-staff.

Some flagpoles, such as those typically used on houses or in school classrooms, cannot be adjusted, which presents a problem as they cannot be flown at half-staff. This situation is not covered in the US Flag Code. However, the American Legion recommends the use of a black ribbon atop the pole as a signal for mourning.

The best residential telescoping flagpole is one designed in a way that makes it easy to fly at half-staff when necessary.

Published by Karen Anthony