Displaying the American flag is a great way to express your patriotism and national pride for your country. It also shows respect for the military and its members and is often used to honor their service and sacrifice. The American flag can be displayed from a flagpole in many ways, from raised, half-staff to lowered. Flagpoles allow your flag to fly beautifully in the breeze and create an attractive feature to homes and businesses. But it is important to know the specific handling rules with the American flagpole and why they should be respected in accordance with flag etiquette.
About Flag Etiquette
The American flag comes with a lot of history, which is why members of the organization constructed the National Flag Code. This is under Public Law 94-344 and contains the appropriate flag etiquette. Including rules on handling the American flag and honoring the nation’s most iconic symbol of freedom. Although the U.S flag code does not have any penalties, each state has their own individual flag code which may impose penalties for misusing the flag.
In addition to the U.S. flag code, there are also specific guidelines for handling the American flagpole itself. Respecting flagpole etiquette is also just as important and requires careful attention so that your flag display represents the nation in a dignified manner.
To help you understand the appropriate way to handle an American flagpole, we will be outlining the main rules here in our guide.
Take a look!
1 - Raising and Lowering
When it comes to raising and lowering the U.S. flag, it must be done respectfully. For example, the U.S. flag should always be raised first and lowered last. One person should lower the flag but it must be done slowly and with dignity. But when raising the flag, it should be hoisted briskly to the top of the pole.
When to fly the flag
Ordinarily, the flag should only be raised between sunrise and sunset. Make sure the flag is properly attached to the flag line which is called a ‘halyard’. The flag can be flown every day if you wish, but there are certain occasions such as national and state holidays when a flag display is more respected.
Here are the main events where a flag display is called for:
New Years’ Day
Martin Luther King Jr>’s Birthday
National Vietnam War Veterans Day
Armed Forces Day
2 - Know when to fly the flag at half-staff
It is flag etiquette to fly the flag of the United States at half-staff when the nation or a state is in mourning. In particular, flags should fly at half-staff on certain occasions, such as times of mourning for designated, principal government leaders and upon presidential order. This practice should also be considered on memorial day as a sign of respect and honor to those who have served the nation. The flag should be displayed at half-staff from sunrise until noon.
When the flag is flown at half-staff, the flag should be raised to the peak for an instant and then slowly lowered to the half-staff position which is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of a flagpole. To retrieve a flag at half-staff, always raise the flag back up to the top of the pole, then lower the flag as you normally would and then unclip to secure the halyard and fold the flag.
Here are some of the events when the U.S flag should be flown at half-staff:
Death of Government Officials
Tragedies and Disasters
3 - Fly the American flag above other flags
Other flags may also be displayed on the same flagpole, however they must never be higher or larger than the American flag. If flown on the same flagpole, at the same height, the flag beneath it may be the same size or smaller than the American flag. Alternatively, when you fly your U.S. flag with other flags on separate flagpoles of the same height, the U.S. flag should always be positioned furthest to the viewer’s left.
Make sure your flag is positioned at the highest center point. This is referred to as the position of honor which means it is given the place of prominence to show its importance. Another great tip is to never fly another nation’s flag on the same halyard your U.S. flag is on.
4 - Multiple flagpoles displayed together
You are allowed to display more than one flagpole together but the U.S. flag must always be posited above other flags if other flags are present. If you display 2 flagpoles together at the same height, then the American flag must be flown on its own right ( left from the main view point). When 3 flagpoles are together and the middle flagpole is taller, then the American flag should fly in the center.
To help reduce your flag getting tangled in the wind, adding a flag weight can help it fly freely on the flagpole. Weighing your flag display down is effective in preventing flags from getting snags, tearing and or fraying. You can also apply flagpole counterweights to keep your halyards under more tension, allowing the flag to be lowered. They also stop your flags from getting blown off your pole in high winds. But these are only mainly used to eliminate ground disturbance, making them more suitable where permanent flagpole installations are not practical.
6 - Keep your flagpole clean
Flagpole etiquette also involves keeping your flagpole clean and ensuring it is in good condition. This is important for maintaining the appearance of your flag display and ensuring it meets the relevant guidelines. You flags can’t look their best on a dirty or damaged flagpole. So to properly care for your flagpole, you should make sure it is cleaned regularly to remove any dirt, grime or dust.
Flagpole cleaning can be done quickly using mild soap and water. Do not use any abrasive cleaners as they may damage its surface. Using a garden hose on a low to medium pressure setting can be effective in washing off most dirt or debris from your flagpole. If you cannot remove all of the grime, then use a wet cloth with a mild detergent. Cleaning your flagpole regularly will prevent pollutantsLearn more tips here in our flagpole care and maintenance guide.
7 - Flagpole Storage
Storing your flagpole properly helps to ensure that it remains in good condition and ready for use whenever it is needed. If you need to store your flagpole before installation, making sure it is stored in the right environment and packaged correctly is key. First step is to immediately remove all wrapping from the pole. If wrapping is left on the pole and it gets wet, staining could occur. You should also inspect the pole for any signs of damage to prevent further deterioration.
An important tip to keep in mind is do not store your unwrapped pole directly on the ground as grass and soil can stain the pole. Stones can also scratch the pole. Therefore, instead you should place your pole on a soft, colorfast support surface. The storage location should be completely dry with good ventilation, avoiding damp or humid areas.
When storing your flagpole, be sure to position it safely so that it doesn’t tip over or get damaged and consider wrapping the flagpole in a protective material.
Be careful not to let the pole come into contact with other hard surfaces like metal, concrete, or stone. Your pole is manufactured from aluminum which can easily scratch. Always use extreme care in storing and moving your flagpole prior to installation.
8 - Protecting your flagpole in extreme weather conditions
High wind speeds can be damaging to your flag and flagpole if caution is not taken. Extreme rain and snow can also place additional stress on your flag and flagpole. If your area is consistently exposed to higher winds or severe weather conditions then you should probably consider protecting your flagpole. This would include bringing down your wall-mounted flagpoleor lowering your telescoping flagpole.
If you want to check when your flagpole needs protection from the wind, you should find out the wind rating of your pole. But the most important thing to do is ensure the flagpole is installed correctly. Check that the flagpole foundations are stable and use an anchoring system to prevent the pole from leaning or falling during strong winds.
9 - Flagpole Lighting
If your flagpole is displayed at night, then you need to make sure it is properly illuminated. This is in accordance with the U.S. Flag Code, which states that the flag should be displayed from sunrise to sunset unless properly illuminated during the hours of darkness. Using a flagpole lighting system will allow you to express your patriotism 24 hours a day every day of the year. At Federal Flags, we offer the best range of flagpole lighting and other flagpole accessories which are available to purchase online. Check them out today.
A Heavy Duty 2-ply Polyester American Flag You'll Be Proud To Fly
Our most popular size of flag.
Ideal fit for our 20ft commercial flagpoles or 5-6ft wall mount flagpoles
Uncompromising attention to detail and quality
Made in the USA by master flagmakers
Crafted from the highest quality materials available
Fly Your Flag Today
We hope this guide on handling the American flagpole has been useful to you. By following these tips, you show respect for the American flag and love for the country. It also creates a positive unity of patriotism in your community, expressing appreciation for the sacrifices of those serving in the U.S. military.
If you would like to buy a new flag, check out our high-quality premium American flags online and show your pride for the nation today. Or get in touch with our experts for more information and support.