American Flag Etiquette

Ann Bilbrey
Brownie Leader Troop 904
Illinois Crossroads
Palatine, Illinois

Notes to keep in mind regarding flag etiquette:


Color Guard:

Color bearer-holds flag folded (never open) in outstretched arms with point of triangle forward.
Color guards-number depends on size of flag and number needed to fold it.
(An even #) stand at attention during ceremony and do not speak or sing, etc.



The raising and lowering of the flag is very important. All poem reading, singing, etc. must be done either after flag is raised, or before it is lowered. No members of the color guard speaks or sings.



Girl Scouts use civilian salute of placing hand over heart. Salute done when flag is attached to first grommet when raising, until flag reaches the top. When lowering the flag, salute when flag first starts down the pole, until it is removed from last grommet.


Bearer: over right shoulder draped down to left waist, tied in a square knot.

Guards: around waist and knotted on left in square knot.

Sash color should be red (any type of material can be used).


Flag should not be raised before sunrise or up after sunset.

Flag should not be displayed in bad weather.

Flag may be flown at night on special occasions, or if a light is spotlighted on the flag.

Do not use the flag as a drape or cover (Casket covering only exception, when burying a veteran).

When flag is soiled, launder it.

When flag is tattered, it should be destroyed by burning it. This should be done with dignity.



American flag carried on right of or in front of other flags.

Flag should be posted on the right side - this should be the flag's right side (not necessarily the audience's right side).



Raise American flag first before any other flags are raised.



Lower American flag last as other flags are also lowered.

Carrying a flag on a pole - bearer holds it directly in front of her with heel at her left side in left hand. The weight of the flag is supported by holding staff with right hand from upper side.



Raising - host flag up to the top then 1/2 way down.

Lowering - raise flag up to the top then down the pole.


TAPS can be played while flag is being lowered. Otherwise, singing should be done before flag is lowered.

Flags from two or more nations: Poles must be the same height.

International usage forbids display of flag of one nation to be above another in time of peace.