How to Hang the American Flag

The American Flag is a great source of honor and pride for many Americans. Displaying the stars and stripes prominently is a common way to show patriotism. The U.S. Flag Code gives an in-depth set of guidelines for how American Flags should be properly hung and handled. While these guidelines are not enforceable, failure to follow them could be misconstrued as disrespectful. In this article, we compiled the most common ways to properly hang an American Flag.

One of the most important rules about hanging the U.S. Flag is to never hang it upside down. The union (the upper left corner of a flag where the stars are located) should never be displayed on the bottom of the flag (upside down), unless to signal dire distress in times of extreme danger to life or property. Hanging a flag upside down can be a sign of disrespect and should be avoided.

How Do I Hang an American Flag from a Wall?

When hanging a flag horizontally or vertically on a wall, the union should be in the upper left corner from the observer’s perspective. This is one of the most common mistakes made when hanging a flag.

how to hang an american flag vertically

 In the photos above, both the correct and incorrect ways to hang a flag vertically are displayed. The photo on the left correctly has the union in the upper left corner. In the photo on the right,  we see the union in the upper right handside, which is incorrect. 

Displaying an American Flag That Will be Seen From Both Directions

When the flag will be seen from both sides, like draped over a street or from the rafters of a gymnasium, there are different guidelines to follow. In this case, the American Flag should be hung with the union on either the eastern side or northern side, depending on how it is being viewed. For example, if an American Flag was draped over a north-south street, the union should be on the eastern side.  

american flag hanging on George Washington Bridge

In the photo above, the American Flag is seen draped from the George Washington Bridge. Because the bridge travels east-west, the union should be on the northern side. This flag is hung correctly because the observer’s perspective is looking west in this photo, placing the union is on the northern side.

Hanging an American Flag from an Angled Wall Bracket

When hanging the U.S. Flag from an angled wall bracket from a building or home, the union should always be at the peak of the staff.

american flag hung from angled wall bracket

Above, we see the American Flag with the union at the flagstaff peak. Additionally, the flag is not touching anything below it, which would also violate flag code.

Displaying Two Flags With Crossed Staffs

When displaying two flags with crossed staffs against a wall, the American Flag should be on the observer’s left, with the American Flag staff crossing over the top of the other flag.

american flag crossed staffs with German flag

Above, we see the American Flag alongside the national flag of Germany. The American Flag is properly positioned on the observer’s left and the flagstaff of the American Flag is above the staff of the German flag.

Displaying Several Flags From Different Staffs

When several flags are displayed on separate flagstaffs, the U.S. Flag should be in the center of the flags and raised the highest if it is the only national flag displayed.

american flag with other flags

Above we see the American Flag properly positioned in the middle of the other flags and raised to the greatest prominence of the three. If either of these two flags were flags of other nations, this positioning would be incorrect.

When displaying the national flag of another country, it should be raised on a separate staff and at an equal height to the U.S. Flag, but never higher. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.

American flag next to national flag of France

Above we see the U.S. Flag raised alongside the flag of France. The two flags are of equal size and are raised at the same height on separate flagstaffs (the middle staff is not displaying any flag). 

Did You Know?

The largest American flag ever made to date was 505 feet wide by 225 feet tall and weighed approximately 3,000 pounds. This flag cost close to $80,000. It is currently the Guinness world record holder for the World’s largest American flag. Quality Sign Designer doesn’t make them that big, but we have large american flags for sale and small american flags for sale to suit every need.

American Flags are an honorable symbol of pride and should be displayed properly. It can be very easy to mistakenly hang an American Flag incorrectly with no ill-intent.  Take the time to make sure you hang your flag correctly and then let it fly proudly. 

Looking to buy an American Flag? Our American Flags are made in the United States at our Florida location. We use materials that are produced in the United States so that our American Flags are 100% American-made.

Interesting American Flag Facts

If you live in the United States, you probably see an American Flag displayed prominently every day. American Flags are a great source of pride for many Americans and are even required at some organizations. Unfortunately, the United States imports many American Flags from foreign countries for lower prices. At Quality Sign Designer, we stitch all of our American Flags at our production facility in Florida. If you’re looking for an American Flag that is made in America, you’ve come to the right place.

Grommets on American Flag
Grommets being added to an American Flag at our Florida production facility

 Who created the first American Flag?

The short answer is that no one truly knows.

The first American Flag from 1776 (or 1777) is often referred to as the “Betsy Ross Flag.” Legend has it that Betsy Ross stitched together a design that George Washington sketched at his request. Ross’ grandson, William J. Canby, brought this theory to the Historical Society of Pennsylvania in a paper in 1870. However, there is no documented evidence that proves, or disproves, Canby’s claim.

Betsy Ross Flag
The “Betsy Ross Flag”

How many times has the American Flag been modified?

The American Flag has been modified 26 times!  On June 14th 1777, the Second Continental Congress adopted the first official guidelines for the national flag: “Resolved, That the flag of the thirteen United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” Within the United States, citizens celebrate Flag Day on June 14th because of this. It is unclear whether the “Betsy Ross Flag” was created prior to this act as legend has it, or if it was created afterwards.

 In 1795,  the Second Continental Congress established a new 15-star, 15-stripe design, after Vermont and Kentucky became states. Known as the Star-Spangled Banner, this was the flag that inspired the Francis Scott Key song by the same name that became the National Anthem of the United States.

15 Star, 15 Stripe Star-Spangled Banner
The 15-star, 15-stripe Star-Spangled Banner

In 1818, the American Flag went back to thirteen alternating stripes. The 1818 Flag Act set forth that there be 13 alternating red and white stripes to represent the 13 original colonies, and one star for every state.

The remaining alterations to the flag were to add stars in the upper left corner as more states were added. The U.S. Government adopted the current 50-star version in 1960 and it has not changed since.

Why is the American Flag called “Old Glory?”

Old Glory was a nickname given to a 10’ x 17’ American Flag by William Driver, a sea captain from Massachusetts. Driver was the owner of the flag which has said to have survived many attempts to deface it during the Civil War.

Driver was a master mariner, sailing his own ship at the age of 21. In his 20-year career as a merchant seaman, Driver sailed to China, India, and Gibraltar. Driver would later move from Massachusetts to Nashville, Tennessee where Confederate soldiers tried confiscate his American Flag. However, Driver consistently resisted, even hiding his flag with his neighbors to prevent soldiers from taking it.

Historic American Flag
Willaim Driver’s flag, nicknamed “Old Glory”

Regarding his 10’ x 17’ American Flag, Driver wrote, “It has ever been my staunch companion and protection. Savages and heathens, lowly and oppressed, hailed and welcomed it at the far end of the wide world. Then, why should it not be called Old Glory?” Driver was a respected unionist and others noticed his devotion to protect the flag, causing to the nickname “Old Glory” to stick.

Interesting Regulations Under the U.S. Flag Code

Flying your own American Flag can be a great source of pride and honor, however it is important to understand the regulations under the U.S. Flag Code so you can display your flag respectfully. Below we will highlight some regulations for when and how you should fly Old Glory.

  • The American Flag should not be publicly displayed in darkness. Owners should raise the Flag at sunrise and lower it at sunset, unless a light illuminates the flag when it is dark.
  •  Main administration buildings of all public institutions should display the American Flag daily.
  •  If flown alongside a national flag of another country, the two flags should be flown on separate staffs, at equal height.
  •  When hung horizontally or vertically, the American Flag should be hung with the union (stars) on the upper left from the observer’s perspective, or the flag’s own right side.
  •  When owners fly the flag at half-staff, they should first raise the flag to the peak of the flagpole for an instant, then lowered to half-staff. When lowering the flag, owners  should raise the flag once more to the peak and then lowered.
  • The American Flag should not be flown in adverse weather unless it is an all-weather flag. Flying the flag in adverse weather (snow, rain, heavy wind) increases its chances of being damaged and is against U.S. Code.
  • On Memorial Day, the American Flag should only remain at half-staff until noon.
  • The American Flag should never be displayed with the union (stars) at the bottom (upside down), except as a signal of dire distress.
  • People should never use an American Flag as a costume, clothing, or drapery.
  •  American Flags owners should destroy them in a dignified way, like burning, when the flag is in poor enough condition that is no longer suitable for display.
  • The American Flag should never touch anything below it.
  • People should never carry the American Flag horizontally or flat, but always aloft and freely.

American Flag Sewn Stripes

The next time you hear someone mention “Old Glory” or the “Betsy Ross Flag,” you will know the history behind it. At Quality Sign Designer, we are proud to produce American Flags here in America. If you are looking for an American Flag or any type of signage, we have the solution for you.

Important – Please click here to review our Art Requirements regarding Inappropriate Artwork.