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How to Practice Proper American Flag Etiquette

If you are responsible for the display and care of an American flag, know about proper flag etiquette as established by the United States Flag Code.

Instructions

  • TIP: A flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as a floor or store merchandise.
  • Step 1: Learn flag-folding etiquette. Two people hold the flag horizontally, repeatedly folding it into a triangular shape until only the blue field is visible.
  • Step 2: Care for a flag. Indoor and parade flags should be dry-cleaned. A damaged flag can be repaired unless its overall dimensions are noticeably altered. Enjoy practicing flag etiquette.
  • FACT: No one knows the exact origin of the American flag, but some historians believe that Congressman Francis Hopkinson created the first design and Betsy Ross sewed it.
  • Step 3: Know indoor flag display etiquette. No other flag should be displayed above the U.S. flag. A flag at a podium should be displayed above and behind a speaker.
  • TIP: A flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, or dipped to any person or thing.
  • TIP: Flags at public buildings are customarily flown from sunrise to sunset.
  • Step 4: Know about half-mast flag etiquette. The flag is hoisted to the pole peak for an instant and then lowered to half-mast -- halfway between the pole's top and bottom.
  • Step 5: Be aware of ceremonial etiquette. During hoisting or lowering, those in attendance should stand at attention and face the flag with the right hand over the heart.
  • Step 6: Know outdoor flag display etiquette -- the flag is hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously. Avoid hoisting and lowering in foul weather unless you're using an all-weather flag.

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