Flag Store USA

Patriotic Guidelines for Flying Your Flag

Holidays such as the 4th of July, Memorial Day and Patriot’s Day give citizens the opportunity to proudly display our nation’s symbol. To ensure you do so responsibly and in accordance with patriotic guidelines, the Flag Manufacturers Association of America (FMAA) offers these helpful guidelines:

4th of July

Independence Day honors the adoption of the Declaration of Independence and is a day of significance for so many reasons. This day has inspired speeches and musical compositions and provides us the opportunity to ponder the meaning of our nation's heritage and celebrate our freedoms in our own unique way. 

  • To salute the flag, all persons should come to attention. Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute as specified by the uniform service. Citizens not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over their hearts. Men wearing a head cover (a hat, cap or other headwear) are to remove it. Women may wear a head covering.
  • In parades or reviews, at the moment the flag passes, stand at attention facing the flag and salute.
  • The Flag of the United States is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered. The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of the national anthem; whichever is the longest.
  • When the national anthem is played or sung, stand at attention and salute, by placing your right hand over the heart, at the first note and hold the salute through the last note. The salute is directed to the flag, if displayed, otherwise to the music. If in uniform, salute in the formal manner. It is proper to salute wherever the national anthem is played, for instance, on a college campus, in a public park, in a church, at a ball game, sports event, etc.
  • When the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, stand at attention and salute by placing your right hand over your heart with the first word and hold the salute through the last line of the Pledge. The salute is directed to the flag by facing the flag during the Pledge.

Memorial Day

Memorial Day is a sacred day reserved for the remembrance of those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms. While we can never repay the brave men and women who have given their lives while serving as members of America's armed forces, the FMAA hopes that every American takes time to remember and honor them this Memorial Day by flying their U.S. Flag.

  • Fly the U.S. Flag at half-staff until noon
  • Fly the 'POW/MIA Flag' as well
  • Visit cemeteries and place flags or flowers on the graves of our fallen heroes
  • Visit memorials
  • Participate in a “National Moment of Remembrance" at 3:00 PM to pause and think upon the true meaning of the day
  • Renew a pledge to aid those affected by our fallen heroes, and to aid disabled veterans

Patriot’s Day

Each April, Patriot’s Day honors the battles and skirmishes that began our fight for independence. Patriot's Day, held on the third Monday in April, commemorates the battle of Lexington and Concord, which was fought on April 19, 1775. Part of the history of this famous revolutionary battle was the midnight ride of Paul Revere and “the shot heard 'round the world.” Today only Massachusetts, Maine and Wisconsin officially recognize this state holiday, but its celebrations are known by many. Besides several reenactments of the famous midnight ride, there are other festivities including professional baseball games and the running of the Boston Marathon.

Wartime and Mourning Periods

It is always permissible and desirable to fly the American flag, but displaying it every day is particularly appropriate to show support for our troops when the nation is at war. While it is considered inappropriate to fly the American flag in inclement weather, it is permissible to fly the flag at night if there is enough light in the area so that the flag can be plainly seen. There is no special “war time” protocol for displaying the American flag during periods of military conflict, although there are situations that arise that generate questions.

Use of a yellow ribbon has been an unofficial American tradition for over 100 years. Displaying a yellow ribbon indicates thoughts and prayers for the safe return of American forces on duty away from home. No official guidelines for its display exist but yellow ribbons are often tied to trees and light poles or displayed in miniature on the left lapel of jackets or other clothing. When displayed with an American flag the preferred position of the yellow ribbon is tied in a bow above a full-staffed flag. Note that displaying a black or yellow ribbon above the American flag is not considered a breech of Flag Etiquette because the ribbon does not represent another country or organization.

The flag should normally be at full staff. It should be half-staffed for a designated half-staff holiday by proclamation of the President. Designated half-staff holidays are:

  • Memorial Day (half-staff until noon)
  • Peace Officers Memorial Day (May 15)
  • Korean War Veterans Day (July 27th)
  • Patriot Day (Sept.11)
  • Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day (Dec. 7th)

The Governor of a State, territory or possession of the United States may proclaim that the national flag be flown at half-staff in the event of the death of a present or former official of that State, territory or possession as a mark of respect to their memory.

When a U.S. flag cannot be lowered because it is mounted either on an indoor flag set or on a small pole made for porch or window display, tying a black bow above a full- staffed flag properly indicates mourning.

Information courtesy of the Flag Research Center, the National Flag Foundation, and the Flag Manufacturers Association of America. For more information, contact the National Flag Foundation at 800-615 1776 or visit the FMAA website at www.fmaa-usa.com. For official U.S. laws related to the display of the American flag, see U.S. Code: Patriotic Customs