Honoring Old Glory: Flag Protocol on National Flag Day

Honoring Old Glory: Flag Protocol on National Flag Day

Annually, on June 14, the United States celebrates the Star Spangled Banner on National Flag Day. Celebrated on the anniversary of the Flag Resolution, signed by the Second Continental Congress in 1777, US citizens are called to hoist the stars and stripes with reverence and pride. This historic holiday was declared a national observance by President Woodrow Wilson on May 30, 1916, who declared that Flag Day is a time to “rededicate ourselves to the nation” and “stand with united hearts for our country.”

Our readers and followers have asked about the finer points of flag protocol, so we’re sharing some tips in time for Flag Day. Proper flag handling procedure is cov­ered under fed­eral law in Chap­ter 1, Title 4 of the United States Code. Our U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that dis­play­ing the U.S. flag is a pro­tected right under the 1st Amendment; however, it is possible to be cited for improper use of the flag. The United States Flag Code stipulates that as the symbol of a living country, the flag is considered in itself a living thing and should therefore be properly cared for and displayed. To properly honor the flag, you want to be sure you’re displaying it correctly:

  • Raise the flag briskly and lower it ceremoniously.
  • Never allow the flag to touch the ground or floor.
  • The flag should never be transported flat or horizontally, but always aloft
  • Do not fly the flag in bad weather, unless you are 100% certain it is an all-weather flag.
  • Fly the flag only from sunrise to sunset. It can only be flown at night if it is properly illuminated.
  • The flag should always be allowed to fall free.
  • The flag may not be used to carry, store, or deliver any items.
  • Never fly the flag upside down except to signal an emergency.
  • When displaying the flag indoors, accord the banner a place of honor, to the right of any displays, stages, or sanctuaries.
  • When displaying the flag against a wall, the union stars should be at the top and to the observer’s left.

The U.S. American flag is displayed every day, and especially on the days listed below. We have indicated the dates to fly the flag at half-staff.

From now until the end of 2017, important dates to note are:

  • Labor Day, September 5,
  • Patriot Day, September 11 (Half-staff)
  • Constitution Day, September 17
  • Gold Star Mother’s Day, September 25
  • Columbus Day, October 10
  • Navy’s Birthday, October 13
  • Election Day, November 8
  • Marine Corps’ Birthday, November 10
  • Veterans Day, November 11
  • Thanksgiving, November 24
  • Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day, December 7 (Half-staff)
  • Christmas Day, December 25
  • Texas’ Birthday, December 29

These tips will help you raise the Star-Spangled Banner in style. Happy National Flag Day!

Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Protocol & Etiquette Worldwide. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards.


Photo credit: Unsplash


  1. Virginia Kowal September 19, 2020 at 7:18 am - Reply

    No comment, a question:

    What is the way to properly illuminate the American flag at night ?

    • Sharon Schweitzer October 18, 2020 at 3:34 pm - Reply

      Dear Ms. Virginia Kowal,
      Thanks for your question about our U.S. flag. The first rule of U.S. flag etiquette is “sunrise to sunset” on stationary flag staffs / poles in the open and buildings.
      This is to prevent the flag from being flown on days when no one can lower it at sunset.
      However, if a patriotic display is sought, the U.S. flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if properly illuminated.
      Properly illuminated means it must be lighted well enough to be recognizable by the casual observer from sunset to sunrise.

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