How to Properly Display an American Flag

To many Americans, the flag is a powerful symbol of honor, courage, and sacrifice. If you want to display an American flag in or outside of your home, there are a set of protocols you can follow out of respect. Flag etiquette is designed to make sure that the stars and stripes are always treated with dignity, in honor of those who gave their lives for their country and its ideals.

Outside Display

Whether you have a flag pole or the flag is posted stationary outside your house, the rules for flying Old Glory, as the flag is sometimes called, are the same. Precedent states the flag should only be displayed from sunrise to sunset—it should be hoisted quickly at sunrise and lowered reverently at sunset. The flag should then be folded in the standard flag fold and stored without touching the ground until the next day. If you don't know how to correctly secure your flag to the flagpole, the simple steps can easily be learned beforehand.

Some individuals may wish to display their flag outside night and day, whether stationary or on a home flag pole. This is permitted if the flag is lit throughout the night and remains lit until the sun rises in the morning. You can install your own flag pole light or pay a local handyman to install it for you.

If you wish to display more than one flag on your pole, the United States flag should always fly above any other flag.

On occasion, it is respectful to fly the flag at half staff. Flying the flag at half staff is a sign of solidarity and solemnity and should not be done lightly. You can join an official newsletter that sends half staff updates, but you should also know the days of the year when the flag is always flown at half staff. Upon the death of Presidents, public servants, and other important figures—as well as to recognize national tragedy—flags will periodically be flown at half staff.

american flag at half mast

Remember to fly your flag at half staff on May 15th, July 27th, September 11th, and December 7th. These days are to commemorate peace officers, Korean War vets, Patriot Day, and the anniversary of Pearl Harbor. On the last Monday in May—Memorial Day—the flag should be flown at half staff until noon, and then it should promptly be raised.

If your outdoor flag is fixed on a staff and can't be raised or lowered, there is still a way to commemorate days when the flags fly at half staff. Special ribbons can be added to the pole to signify the importance of the day.

Inside Display

If you display your flag indoors, there are a few ways that you can respectfully show the stars and stripes. If you're hanging the flag on the wall horizontally, make sure that the stars are on the flag’s right—to the viewers left. If you plan on hanging the flag vertically, the section of stars should remain in the same position—in the top right corner of the flag, to the viewer’s left.

If you have other flags or pennants in your home that you would like to display with the flag, best practice states that none should hang on the wall above the flag. This includes your college alma mater pennant, a state flag, and any other form of flag or banner. It is also tradition that no other flag or pennant be hung on the same level to the right of the flag.

bedroom with american flag on wall

Flags can also be folded and displayed in the home. This practice is common for family members wanting to display a veteran or service member’s flag. After correctly and respectfully folding the flag, you can display the flag folded in a prominent place in the home. You can also put the flag in a display case. These cases can be bought at a craft or framing store, or you can create your own flag display case.