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Displaying the American Flag

Flag Day is June 14 and it is a day where we proudly display our flag. However, circumstances both planned and unplanned exist all year long when displaying the flag is appropriate, so here are a few tips to help you do it properly.

Displaying the American Flag

Full Mast Occasions

If you have a flagpole, the flag should be flown at full mast from sunrise until sunset, except on occasions where it should be flown at half mast.

Half Mast Occasions

American Flag flow at Half Staff

As a memorial, the flag is flown at half mast after first being briefly raised to full mast then lowered. In most cases, the flag should fly at half mast from sunrise to sunset, except for Memorial Day, when the flag only flies at half mast until noon. Other half mast occasions include:

Patriot Day September 11

National Firefighters Memorial Day Around October 9

Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day December 7

*For a full list of half mast occasions, visit the Gettysburg Flag Company.

When you don’t have a flagpole

To observe half mast occasions when you don’t have a flagpole, you can temporarily attach a strip of black ribbon or paper to the flag. The strip should be the same width and length as one of the red stripes on the flag.

To observe full mast occasions without a flagpole you can simply hang the flag on a wall or window. Whether displaying the flag vertically or horizontally, the union (the blue field of stars) should always be on the top and to the viewer’s left.

Folding The American Flag

You’ve no doubt seen flag folding ceremonies where soldiers fold the flag into a triangle of stars. Here’s how to do it:

Start by holding the flag parallel to the ground at waist height. Then…

  1. Fold the flag lengthwise with the stripes covering the union.
  2. Fold the flag lengthwise again so that the stars return to the top.
  3. Starting opposite the union end, fold the corner up to meet the edge of the flag.
  4. Continue folding the corners to the end of the flag and tuck the remaining flap under the fold. The result is a triangular fold with only stars showing.

Folding the American FlagNote: While the Triangle of Stars is the most recognizable way to fold the flag, it is only the military method and not recommended for long term storage of the flag. If you’re not flying your flag regularly, it is proper to store the flag flat or roll the flag around a mailing tube that has been covered with acid-free paper. This prevents creases from forming.

Storing The Flag

Once folded or rolled, be sure to store your flag in a dark place, free from dirt and dust. If your storing the flag rolled up, covering it in a drawstring bag (canvas or even a hefty bag) will help protect it from dust and the fading effects of sunlight.

Perhaps one of the most important ways to show your pride in Old Glory is to make sure your flag is made in the USA.