USSSP: A Scout's Duty to God and Country

RESPECT FOR THE FLAG

 

FLAG ETIQUETTE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Scouts, we share a special responsibility to understand the proper ways to show respect for our flag in ceremonies, meetings, at home and in the community.  Most people expect that Scouts are instantly experts in flag handling, flag ceremonies and the like,  because almost every living adult has seen at one time or another, a group of Scouts rendering respect to a flag, conducting an opening flag ceremony at a PTA meeting, carrying a flag in a parade, etc.  In fact, most folks look to Scouts to answer their questions about matters related to the display or use of a flag.  It is a high compliment that so many people hold Scouts in such esteem.  Unfortunately, however, Scouts don't instinctively know how to render respect to the flag.  They must learn from us, their leaders. 

 

To be worthy of our community's confidence requires us to continue to assure that our Scouts are aware of the basics of flag etiquette.  The rules are found in Title 36 of the United States Code starting at Section 170. 

 

To help you out, we have included some of the basics below:

 

WHEN TO DISPLAY THE FLAG

 

1.      The flag should only be displayed from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flag staffs in the open.  However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day, if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

 

2.      The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all weather flag is displayed.

 

3.      The flag should be displayed on all days, especially on New Years Day, Inauguration Day, Lincoln's Birthday, Washington's Birthday, Easter Sunday, Mother's Day, Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day (Half-staff until noon), Flag Day, Independence Day, Labor Day, Constitution Day, Columbus Day, Navy Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of the United States.

 

HOW TO DISPLAY THE FLAG - STATIC DISPLAY

 

4.      When the flag is suspended over a sidewalk from a line extending from a building at the edge of the sidewalk, the flag should be hoisted out, union first from the building.

 

5.      When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the observer's left.  When displayed in a window the flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.

 

6.      When the flag is displayed over the middle of a street, it should be suspended vertically with the union to the north on an east-west street or to the east on a north-south street.

 

7.      The flag should form a distinctive feature of the ceremony of unveiling a statue or monument, but it should never be used as the covering for the statue or monument.

 

8.      When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder.  The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.

 

9.      When the flag is suspend across a corridor or lobby in a building with only one main entrance, it should be suspended vertically with the union of the flag to the observer's left upon entering.  If the building has more than one main entrance, the flag should be suspended vertically near the center of the corridor or lobby with the union to the north when the entrances are to the east and west and with the union to the east when the entrances are to the north and south.  If, there are more than two directions, the union should be to the east.

 

HOW TO DISPLAY THE FLAG - SPEAKERS PLATFORM

 

10.    When used on a speaker's platform, the flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker.  When displayed in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman's or speaker's right as he faces the audience.  Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker or to the right of the audience.

 

 

 

 

HOW TO DISPLAY THE FLAG - FROM A STAFF

 

11.    When the flag of the United States is displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle from the window sill, balcony, or front of a building, the union of the flag should be placed at the peak of the staff, unless the flag is at half staff.

 

HOW TO DISPLAY THE FLAG - WITH OTHER FLAGS

 

12.    No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for the personnel of the Navy.  No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States at any place within the United States, its Territories or possessions, except at the headquarters of the United Nations.

 

13.    The flag of the United States of America, when it is displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the right (the flag's own right) and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.

 

14.    The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.

 

15.    When flags of States, cities, or localities, or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the Flag of the United States, the latter should always be at the peak.  When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last.  No such flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the United States or the United States flag's right.

 

16.    When flags of two or more nations are displayed they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height.  The flags should be of approximately equal size.  International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.

 

HOW TO DISPLAY THE FLAG - IN A PROCESSION, PARADE, ETC.

 

17.    The flag, when carried in a procession with another flag or flags, should be either on the marching right (the flag's own right), or, if there is a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.

 

18.    At no time should any other flag or banner pass in front of the Flag of the United States ("front" means nearest or next to the presiding officer).

 

19.    The flag should not be displayed on a float in a parade, except from a staff.

 

20.    The flag should not be draped over any part of a vehicle, train or boat.

 

21.    When the flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present except those in uniform should face the flag and stand at attention with the right hand over the heart.  Those present in uniform should render the military salute.  Aliens should stand at attention.  The salute to the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.

 

RAISING AND LOWERING THE FLAG

 

22.    The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.

 

23.    The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half staff position.  The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day.

 

 

Illustration of Proper Flag Etiquette

During Presentation of Flags at a

Scout Meeting

24.    During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag all persons present except those in uniform should face the flag and stand at attention with the right hand over the heart.  Those present in uniform should render the military salute.  Aliens should stand at attention.  The salute to the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.

 

RESPECT FOR THE FLAG

 

25.    The flag should not be dipped to any persons or things.  Other flags are dipped towards the United States flag as a mark of honor.

 

26.    The flag should never be displayed with union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property..

 

27.    The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, floor, water, or merchandise.

 

28.    The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.

 

29.    The flag should not be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.

 

30.    The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

 

31.    The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.

 

32.    The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.

 

33.    The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

 

34     The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner.

 

35.    No part of flag should be used as a costume or athletic uniform.  However, a flag patch may be affixed to a uniform.

 

36.    Flag lapel pins should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.

 

DESTRUCTION OF THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES

 

37. The flag, when it is such condition that is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.  Burial is also an appropriate method.  See "With Honor and Dignity", Scouting Magazine, May-June 1993 at p. 34.  Though not strictly necessary, some Scouters prefer that when using either method the flag should be cut into two pieces down its center between two stripes.  Then the blue union field should be separated.  The remains no longer are a flag and may be destroyed without any disrespect to the former flag.


 

 


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