9 Mistakes You Should Never Make with the American Flag

Flying the grand old flag on Memorial Day is a great way to honor our servicemen and women who have sacrificed so much for our country. Not only is it festive to hang the flag, but doing so serves as a reminder that this holiday is so much more than a day off work. Whether you’re hosting a big barbecue for the whole neighborhood or just showing your gratitude to the members of our military, display the Stars and Stripes proudly this Memorial Day—but to make sure that you're flying Old Glory properly and respectfully, steer clear of these 9 mistakes.

Hanging the Flag in Bad Weather

Flag Etiquette Rain

In May the weather can be pretty unpredictable, so keep an eye on the forecast. The American flag shouldn’t be subject to weather damage, so be prepared to bring the flag in if rain, snow, or even a windstorm threatens—unless you have an all-weather flag.

Related: 20 American Towns with Perfect Weather


Flying the Flag at Night

Flying American Flag At Night

Traditionally, the flag should be flown only from sunrise to sunset. If, however, you’re planning a Memorial Day celebration that will extend well into the evening, make sure your flag is properly illuminated. Just a few garden lights should do the trick.

Related: The Best Ways to Light the Backyard


Displaying the American Flag Below Another Flag

How To Display The American Flag With Other Flags

If you have a state or a school flag that will be hung with the American flag, pay attention to their positions. When flying two flags on the same staff, the American flag should always be on top. When displaying two flags against a wall with crossed staffs, the American flag’s staff should always be in the front and to the right of the other flag's staff (which means the U.S. flag itself will be on the left).

Related: State Pride: 50 Ways to Show You Love Where You Live


Displaying Flags of Many Nations at Different Heights

Displaying Multiple Flags

When two or more flags of different nations are displayed, they should always be flown on separate staffs at the same height. As well, the flags should be around the same size and should never be displayed in a way that favors one over the other. This attention to the flags' relative positions symbolizes peace between nations.


Flying the Flag at Full Staff Before Noon on Memorial Day

Flag At Half Staff Rules

To honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country, we display the American flag at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day. But after the clock strikes 12, be sure to raise that flag up to the peak.

Related: 18 Small Towns That Changed America


Orienting the Flag Incorrectly When Displayed Flat

Proper Way To Hang A Flag On A Wall

If you choose to hang your flag vertically from a wall, the eaves of a building, or over a street, you can display the stripes either horizontally or vertically, but pay careful attention to the placement of the union (the blue field with white stars). When the flag is hung against a wall, the union should be at the observer's left (the flag's own right); over a street, the union should face either north or east, depending on the direction of the street.

Related: Don't Make These 8 Mistakes in Your Front Yard


Hanging the Flag Upside Down

US Flag Position

One of the most important rules to remember is to always hang the flag right side up: When the flag is flown from a staff, the union should always be on top. A flag flown with the union facing down constitutes a symbol of distress—so be careful how you hang it!


Letting the Flag Touch the Ground

American Flag Touching Ground

As a sign of respect, you should never let the American flag touch the ground or any other surface, including the roof of your house, any merchandise, or your car. This rule protects the flag from becoming sullied or dirtied. If you wish to display it from your car, it should be firmly fixed to the right fender. 


Adding Anything to the Flag

American Flag Etiquette

Although it may be tempting to dress it up for the holiday, the American flag should never have any additional designs, letters, or insignia added to it. It's best to let the red, white, and blue stand on its own.


Flying the Stars and Stripes

Flying the Stars and Stripes

Show Old Glory off the right way.


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