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Flag Etiquette

Raising and Lowering the U.S. Flag

When raising the flag, hoist briskly to the top of the pole. When lowering, it is to be done slowly and respectfully. The flag should not touch the ground or floor beneath it.

 

No other flag may be flown above the United States flag. The exception is at the United Nations Headquarters where the UN flag may be placed above flags of all member nations.

 

Positioning the U.S. Flag at Half Staff

Flying the flag at half-staff is a sign of mourning. “Half staff” refers to the point on the flagpole which is halfway between the top and the bottom of the pole. When flown at half-staff, the flag should be first hoisted briskly to the peak, then immediately slowly and respectfully lowered to the half-staff position.

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Displaying the U.S. Flag and Other Flags on the Same Rope or Staff

When flags of states, cities, corporations or organizations are flown on the same flagpole with the flag of the United States, they are flown beneath the U.S. flag. The flag beneath may be the same size or smaller than the U.S. flag, but never larger.

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Displaying the U.S. Flag and Other Flags on Separate Flagpoles of the Same Height

When the U.S. flag is flown with other flags on separate flagpoles that are all the same height, the flag code states that all other flags flown with the U.S flag should be flown to the flag’s own right, which is the position of honor. That simply means that the U.S. flag should always be placed on the left as it is most commonly observed (such as from the street or when facing a podium). The U.S. flag should be raised first and lowered last.

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Other flags being displayed may be the same size and flown at the same height, but never higher nor larger than the American flag. To the right of the U.S. flag is the next position of honor and would be any state flag(s) in alphabetical order, then corporate or organization flags.

 

Displaying international flags has its own set of protocol, which is explained under its own heading (see below).

 

Displaying the U.S. Flag and Other Flags on Separate Flagpoles of Different Heights

Many displays include poles of differing heights, with the U.S. flag in the middle on a taller pole. The tallest flagpole would display the American flag, as that is the position of honor or prominence.

 

The other flags in the display would be flown in this order beginning from the furthest left to right (as they will be most commonly viewed): State flag, then the taller U.S. in the middle, then corporate or organization flags, usually the same height as the first pole.

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International flags could not be displayed in this configuration unless the U.S. flag is on the flagpole to the furthest left as most commonly viewed, then fly all the other international flags at the same height and of the same size in alphabetical order. (When flying on poles of different heights, the flag on the taller pole would not be flown at its peak, but lowered to be at the same height as all the others.)

 

Displaying the U.S. Flag with Flags of Other Nations

When displaying flags of two or more nations together, they should be flown from separate staffs of the same height and all the flags should be approximately the same size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another in time of peace.

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Flags in an international display should be flown in the following order beginning from the furthest left (as they will be most commonly viewed): The U.S. flag, then the International flags in alphabetical order.