American Flag

Flag Protocol

A Standard of Honor
The flag of the United States is a living symbol that calls to our spirit, reminding us of the greatness of America. We cherish and uphold it because it is the standard of honor under which we live. The proper name of the nation’s symbol is the United States Flag; however, it is sometimes referred to as Old Glory.

We view the flag with devotion, for it represents our national heritage of noble deeds, splendid accomplishment, and untold sacrifices which combined to establish the moral character of our country. Our flag is a symbol that makes our past one with the present and makes the present a foundation for tomorrow. It signifies a people dedicated to liberty, justice and freedom for all. It is our companion around the world. It summons confidence on sight.

There is a magic in its folds that continually renews the hope that this nation, under God, will long be an example everywhere for all who love freedom with honor. We give homage to the flag because it stands for the courageous, earnest, and unselfish experiences of our people who have given us strength as a nation and pride as citizens. We respect our flag because we have respect for our fellow citizens, and because our love for country finds its center in our flag.

The customs and traditions which surround the display and use of our flag are guides to the means by which we as proud and grateful citizens may demonstrate the ultimate respect for the flag of our nation. In honoring and saluting our flag we demonstrate affection for our nation, fellow citizens and the proud future we share.

Care and Respect
Flag respect is the base and foundation of all flag etiquette decisions. When millions of Americans display the Flag there are many violations of major and minor points of flag etiquette and protocol. All Americans should attempt to teach and not judge. Often, an effective way to teach is to guide the offender to the NFF Web site or send one of our Flag Etiquette brochures. You can order these on Shoppers Plaza which you can access from the menu above.

The U.S. Flag should always be treated with the utmost care and respect. Remember, the flag represents a living country and, as such, is considered a living symbol. Always display the flag with the blue union field up — never display the flag upside down, except as a signal of extreme distress. If upside down, this should be only in extremedistress.

Always carry the flag aloft and free — never carry it flat or horizontally in processions or parades. The exception to this is carrying very large flags in a parade that are too big to be flown from a staff or pole. Always keep the flag clean. Keep it safe from those who would not respect it, or do not know enough to do so, such as young children.

The flag is a symbol of us all — of all America. It is not a political symbol. It is a symbol that each American should respect, for it represents the honor, courage and sacrifice of those who struggled to preserve the ideals upon which our country was founded: Freedom, justice and opportunity for all. Contrary to other flags of the world, the U.S. Flag is the flag of the citizens – the people of all ages that make and keep America a stronghold and example of freedom.

Covering A Casket
When used to cover a casket or coffin, the flag should be placed with the blue field covering the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or touch the ground at any time.

The flag should never be used as the covering for a headstone or other statue or monument. When taken from the casket, the flag should be formally and properly folded as a triangle with only the stars showing. Subsequently, the flag may be displayed in a storage case or it may be unfolded and flown.

The ceremony of draping the casket with a United States Flag is used to honor veterans, patriotic citizens, and highly regarded state and national officials. Several organizations have defined the meaning of each fold of the flag. These are unique and original with each organization. None are official or included in the Flag Code.