american flag

As we celebrate Memorial Day, always remember these etiquette tips to have the best day you can! The flag is the ultimate symbol of America, so we never want to try to disrespect it. If all else fails, watch our favorite celebs lead by example!

Display the American Flag the Right Way

Hanging the flag backward or upside down is a significant show of disrespect. If you hang the flag vertically (on a wall or from a windowsill),  hang the Union section, with the stars, on the observer’s left. If you get confused, remember that the stars are located on the left-hand side of the flag, so they should be hung on the left. Also, never dip the flag to anyone or anything.

Touching the Ground

Never let the American flag touch the ground. Accidents happen, but always make sure the flag is in good condition if it hits dirt, pavement, or water.

Use the Right Terminology

People often confuse the words “half-mast” and “half-staff” and use them interchangeably. However, they are not the same thing! Half-mast refers to any flag flown on a ship’s mast, while half-staff refers to all flown on land.


Traditionally, flags are flown at half-staff when the nation is in mourning. Sometimes it’s in remembrance or after the death of a government official. As Memorial Day is the day for honoring those who gave their lives in our country’s service, it is proper to have the flag at half-staff in the morning before raising it fully after noon. According to the official Flag Code, fly the flag at half-staff from sunrise until noon, then raise it to the top of the staff, before lowering it for the day at sunset.


Don’t fly the American Flag at night, unless it’s clearly illuminated. Since most flags won’t be properly illuminated, Flag Code states to bring them in during sunset.


Flag Code also states to never fly your flag in the rain unless it is made of all-weather fabric. Thankfully the American Legion states that most flags nowadays are made from nylon or other non-absorbent materials, so they are perfectly fine for flying in the rain.

Positioning the American Flag

Always hang the American Flag higher than any other flags on display. If this isn’t possible, always place the American flag on the left-most side.

Good Condition

This goes without saying, but only hang your flag if it’s in proper condition. Newer flags are made out of synthetic material and can be machine washed. Older flags should be hand washed with gentle fabric cleaner. Small tears can be hand-sewn, but if there’s a big tear, the flag should be retired. When retiring a flag, you should always dispose of it in the proper fashion.

Disposing of a Flag

The Flag Code states that all old, worn, or unusable flags should be burned in a proper manner. If it is illegal or you feel uncomfortable starting a fire, you can always take your flags to the local American Legion. They usually host flag-burning ceremonies on Flag Day June 14. Boy Scout troops are another great resource to contact for how or when to dispose of your American flag.

Folding the American Flag

You should always fold your flag in the specific, traditional way. Don’t afraid to grab another person to help you. Here is a handy graphic on how to fold your flag.


American flag memorial day


This tip is the most ignored of all, but you should never wear the American flag as clothing. The government can’t enforce flag-protection laws, under Supreme Court case Texas vs. Johnson, so you will not be arrested for it. However, flag code does state that the American flag should never be used on clothing, costumes, bedding, or even temporary use items such as napkins or plates.

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