How to Raise the Flag

When raising the American flag, there is a specific set of rules that needs to be followed in accordance with government guidelines. There are also special instructions that relate to the care of your American flag. Along with these rules are misconceptions concerning flag care, such as the need to bring a flag in during inclement weather and burn it if it touches the ground. These steps give you some basic rules to follow when raising an American flag.

American flag
  1. Slowly raise the American flag to the peak of the flagpole, and then gently lower it to fly it at half staff. If it is not possible for you to lower your flag to half staff because it is not on a pole and affixed to your house, you may hang a black ribbon from the top of the flag. Federal guidelines suggest that the ribbon should be the same length as the flag itself, and just as wide as one of the stripes on your flag.

  2. Raise the American flag to the right of the podium at a public event to be in accordance with appropriate flag etiquette. The flag should be displayed alone on the right side with no other flags displayed next to it. Other flags or banners can be displayed to the left of the speaker at the podium.

  3. Do not raise an American flag that is ripped, torn or defaced in any way. These flags should be destroyed and replaced with an untarnished one. In order to dispose of an American flag appropriately, it must be burned. Burning in a contained and safe environment is suggested, along with burial of the flag remains. If you are not able to do this on your own, the Veterans of Foreign Wars is always available to perform such a task.

  4. Carry the flag in the front when you choose to raise it for a parade or procession. The American flag should be in the lead at all times, and the main focus of all of the flags in the parade.

  5. Attach a flag that is to be raised on a flag pole with the Union, or blue section of stars, facing the upper most part of the pole. Whether it is raised vertically or horizontally, this is how it should be raised at all times. Any variation is considered to be unpatriotic.

  6. Raise flags other than the American flag separately. The American flag should remain solely on a flagpole of its own, not to be shared with any others. If any of the other flags are of other nations, they should all be raised at the same height as the American flag during peace times. If you display a flag during nighttime hours, do not forget to shine a bright light on it to keep in accordance with federal guidelines pertaining to the displaying of the American flag.


  • An American flag should never touch the ground or be excessively handled.
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