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How to Properly Display and Dispose of the American Flag

Personal Insights

As a patriotic symbol of our country, the American flag should be respected and honored when displayed. There are several guidelines for displaying and disposing of the American flag.

General Guidelines for Displaying the American Flag

There is an important term to know when discussing the American flag, the Union. The Union is the blue section of the flag that contains the white stars. When discussing flag etiquette, the Union is often referred to for proper placement of the American flag.

Some general guidelines for displaying the American flag include:

  • When hung vertically whether it is on a door, window, or wall, the Union should always be to the viewer’s left.
  • Whether hung horizontally or vertically on a wall, the Union should always be to the left.
  • In a procession, such as a parade, the American flag is always to the right when next to another flag.
  • When multiple flags are present, the American flag should be in the front and center of the line.
  • Displaying the flag from a building on a staff, the Union should always be at the top of the flag.
  • On a stage or platform, the flag should fly above and behind any speakers with the Union to the observer’s left.
  • In addition, if the flag is on a staff, it should be placed at the podium’s right when looking into the audience with the Union at the top.

Some Important Mistakes that Should be Avoided

The flag, as a symbol of our country should be treated with respect. There are some common mistakes made in displaying the flag that should be avoided, such as:

  • The flag should never dip down to any person or thing, including the President.
  • Unless under dire distress, the flag should never be displayed upside down or with the Union on the bottom.
  • The American flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the floor, furniture, or water.
  • Carry the flag free and with the Union up, never flat or horizontally, unless folded correctly.
  • The American flag should never be used as a covering for anything, including a ceiling, couch, or other item.
  • Never place anything on the flag.
  • The flag should never be used as a part of a costume, embroidered on cushions, printed on paper napkins, or used for advertising purposes.

Proper Disposal of the American Flag

When a flag becomes worn out, torn, or dirty, it should be destroyed. Surprisingly to most people, the preferred way to dispose of the American flag is to burn it. However, it should be done in a ceremonious and dignified manner. On Flag Day (June 14), most American Legion posts will offer these services free of charge.

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