flag day
Flickr/Boston Harborfest

Everything You Need to Know About Displaying the American Flag

Wave it high. Wave it proud. Today (June 14) marks Flag Day, a holiday that celebrates the creation of the Stars and Stripes. The American flag is an important symbol of our country and freedom. That being said, we should display it proudly and treat it with proper respect.

Did you know we have a list of regulations for the proper use and treatment of our flag? It's called the Federal Flag Code and provides instructions for handling and displaying the U.S. flag. Though, no one is likely to arrest you if you break the code, for it doesn't include penalties for misuse of the flag (left up to each state). The code does, however, refer to the flag as a living symbol and calls for the respectful treatment of such an icon.

The code was adopted by the National Flag Conference in 1923 and established as public law in 1942.

Following are some of the dos and don'ts of the Federal Flag Code. Some you're probably familiar with. Others may surprise you.


  • Use any part of the flag as a costume or athletic uniform.
  • Use the flag as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying or delivering anything.
  • Use the flag as a covering for a ceiling.
  • Display the flag with the stars down, except as a signal of extreme distress.
  • Let the flag touch anything beneath it (ground, floor, water, merchandise).
  • Carry the flag flat or horizontally. It should always be aloft and free.
  • Use the flag as apparel, bedding or drapery.
  • Display it in inclement weather, unless an all-weather flag is used.
  • Drape it over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle or boat.


  • Place the U.S. flag at the center and highest point of the group when displaying with other flags.
  • Fasten, display, use and store with care, in a manner that will not allow it to be easily soiled or damaged.
  • Destroy the flag in a dignified way when it is no longer in condition for display, preferably by burning.
  • Display from sunrise to sunset. If displayed at night, properly illuminate it.
  • Raise the flag briskly and lower it ceremoniously.

The code also includes a list of days when it is considered especially important to display the flag. The American Legion offers this list and the complete Federal Flag Code here.

Now that you know the proper methods, show off our stars and stripes with patriotic pride. Display our red, white and blue as a reminder of our fight, our fallen and our freedom.

Now Watch: Service Men and Women Reunite with Their Pets