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American Legion Flag Etiquette
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When flown with flags of states, communities, or societies on separate flag poles which are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor - to its own right. The other flags may be smaller but none may be larger. No other flag ever should be placed above it. The flag of the United States is always the first flag raised and the last to be lowered.

When flown with the national banner of other countries, each flag must be displayed from a separate pole of the same height. Each flag should be the same size. They should be raised and lowered simultaneously. The flag of one nation may not be displayed above that of another nation.

Raising and Lowering The Flag
The flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously. Ordinarily it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night. The flag of the United States of America is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered. The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of music, whichever is the longest.

Displaying The Flag Indoors
When on display, the flag is accorded the place of honor, always positioned to its own right. Place it to the right of the speaker or staging area or sanctuary. Other flags should be to the left.

The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of states, localities, or societies are grouped for display.

When one flag is used with the flag of the United States of America and the staffs are crossed, the flag of the United States is placed on its own right with its staff in front of the other flag.

When displaying the flag against a wall, vertically or horizontally, the flag's union (stars) should be at the top, to the flag's own right, and to the observer's left.

Parading and Saluting The Flag
When carried in a procession, the flag should be to the right of the marchers. When other flags are carried, the flag of the United States may be centered in front of the others or carried to their right. When the flag passes in a procession, or when it is hoisted or lowered, all should face the flag and salute.

The Salute
To salute, all persons come to attention. Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute. Citizens not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over the heart and men with head cover should remove it and hold it to left shoulder, hand over the heart. Members of organizations in formation salute upon command of the person in charge.

The Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem
The pledge of allegiance should be rendered by standing at attention, facing the flag, and saluting. When the national anthem is played or sung, citizens should stand at attention and salute at the first note and hold the salute through the last note. The salute is directed to the flag, if displayed, otherwise to the music.

The Flag in Mourning
To place the flag at half staff, hoist it to the peak for an instant and lower it to a position half way between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag is to be raised again to the peak for a moment before it is lowered. On Memorial Day, the flag is displayed at half staff until noon and at full staff from noon to sunset.

The flag is to be flown at half staff in mourning for designated, principal government leaders and upon presidential or gubernatorial order.

When used to cover a casket, the flag should be placed with the union at the head and over the left shoulder. It should not be lowered into the grave....

Veterans can now salute during national anthem
Veterans and active-duty service members not in uniform can now render the hand salute during the playing of our national anthem, thanks to changes in federal law that took effect November, 2008. The legislative change was sponsored by Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., an Army veteran, and included in the Defense Authorization Act of 2009.

The new provision improves upon a little-known change in federal law last year that authorized veterans to render the hand salute during the raising, lowering or passing of the flag. But it did not address salutes during the national anthem. Last year's provision also applied to members of the armed forces while not in uniform.

The American Legion has opposed the saluting of the U.S. Flag when it is being raised, lowered or is in passing by those who are not in uniform. At its National Convention in Phoenix last August, the Legion passed a resolution against the practice, saying that it "causes confusion leading to breaches of flag etiquette with regard to proper conduct during the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance."

Furthermore, the Legion is concerned that salutes from veterans and service members out of uniform will be imitated by the general public as the proper way to honor the U.S. Flag and/or national anthem. In responding to numerous phone calls and e-mails on the issue, the Legion's Americanism Commission offers this advice: "The law does allow veterans to render the right hand salute, but does not mandate it. If you feel uncomfortable in any situation where the flag is being raised, lowered or is passing in review, the traditional right hand over the heart - with the hat removed - is still a viable and very respectful alternative to the new law."

Traditionally, members of veterans service organizations have rendered hand-salutes during the national anthem, and at events involving the flag, while wearing their organization's official headgear.
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Page Maintained By:
Yvette Munroe & Glen Creighton

UPDATED: December 19, 2015