10 American Flag Display Mistakes That You Should Avoid At All Costs

Juliet D'cruz

Updated on:

Think about a symbol of America, and you probably think of the American flag. 63 percent of Americans made a plan to fly their flags on July 4, 2021. 

Each person displays their flag in their own way. But they better be careful. A long series of customs controls American flag display, and it’s easy to make American flag etiquette mistakes. 

Can you turn the flag into a piece of clothing? How should you allow others to see your flag? When is the right time to hang your flag at half-mast or upside down? 

Answer these questions and you can display your banner throughout the year with the utmost respect. Here are ten mistakes you can avoid. 

  1. Using the Flag as Clothing 

Wearing the flag is one of the most common American flag display mistakes. Many people have seen flags on T-shirts or scarves and they assume wearing the flag is okay. 

But it is in violation of the Flag Code. Section 8d states that it is against American flag etiquette to wear the flag “as wearing apparel.” Section 8j states that the flag should never “be used as a costume or athletic uniform.” 

There are no formal legal penalties for wearing the flag. But you should avoid doing it so you don’t disrespect others. Visit here top know an information about international flags for sale.

  1. Adding Materials to the Flag

No mark, word, or insignia should go on the flag itself. It does not matter if you add something to a physical flag or to an image of the flag. You must present the flag without edits or aberrations. 

The only exception is black mourning ribbons. You can put one over your flag if you cannot display it at half-mast. You may do so to commemorate an occasion like September 11th, or you can do so to acknowledge a personal tragedy. 

  1. Flying the Flag at Night Without Lighting

It is okay to fly your flag at night, especially on holidays like July 4th. But it must remain visible at all times, even late into the night. 

Most people use a spotlight to illuminate their flags. Yet you can use candles or bonfires, provided that the entire flag is visible. 

If you need to take the flag down, you should do so while the flag is lit. Do not allow any part of it to be dark. 

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  1. Putting the Blue Field to the Right of Observers

You should know how to hang an American flag before you buy one. But one of the simplest American flag display tips to follow involves the blue field where the stars are. 

Whenever people are looking at the flag, the blue field should appear to their left. It does not matter if you are displaying the flag horizontally or vertically. 

The only exception is when people can see the flag from both sides. The blue field should appear to the left of observers approaching from north or east. As a compromise, you can hang two flags so a blue field is always to someone’s left. 

  1. Hanging the Flag During Inclement Weather 

You can hang, fly, or display a flag when it is raining or snowing. But you should purchase an all-weather flag made from sturdy materials like nylon. Make sure it goes on your flagpole loosely and does not tear in the wind. 

You can hang your flag when it is hailing. But nylon can tear under the force of hail, so you should avoid that. 

  1. Flying the American Flag Higher Than International Flags

Even when you are flying several nations’ flags on American soil, you must display them all at the same height. Each nation’s flag should go on its own pole, with the American one in the center. All flags should be of the same size. 

State and local flags should go below the American flag. They can go on the same pole or staff. 

  1. Flying at Half-Mast During Improper Times

Flying at half-mast is a sign of mourning. State governments have the authority to order all flags in the state to be flown at half-mast. This is done to commemorate the passing of a state official or to acknowledge a tragedy. 

Presidents have the same authority. You should wait to hear a gubernatorial or presidential proclamation before flying your flag at half-mast. 

  1. Displaying the Flag Upside Down

Displaying the flag upside down is a sign of profound distress. Naval ships used to hang their flags upside down to tell others that their captains had died or a mutiny had occurred. 

It is rare to see the flag upside down today, and many people find it disrespectful. Do not do so unless others are doing it and you all have a good reason for it. 

  1. Letting the Flag Touch Other Things 

Under no circumstances should your flag ever touch the ground. It should not touch plants and objects that sit on the ground. 

You should display your flag so it does not touch anything else. It is okay if your flag wraps around its pole in the wind. But keep it away from branches, electrical wires, and other objects. 

  1. Displaying a Damaged Flag

Do not display a tattered, burnt, or holey flag. When you have one that needs to get discarded, you should burn it. Fold it up and then place it inside a fire while saluting it. 

The Ten Most Common American Flag Display Mistakes 

Your American flag display can be respectful. Never wear the flag or add any details to it, even single words. 

Make sure everyone can see your flag at night, with the blue field to their left. Get an all-weather flag for display during storms and windy days. 

Put your American flag on the same level as international ones. Fly it at half-mast or upside down in accordance with a proclamation. Never let your flag touch the ground or get damaged. 

Etiquette is an art form that you must master. Follow our coverage for more etiquette guides.  

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