When you purchase and fly the Flag of the United States of America, you are committing to adhering to certain standards of respect for the flag, or rules of etiquette. The Flag of the United States should be treated with utmost respect at all times, and if a flag becomes unsuitable for use, it should be disposed in a proper manner. Here are some of the most important rules regarding flag etiquette.
The Flag of the United States should always be flown with the union–the blue and white “stars” field–at the flag’s own right (the observer’s left). Flying the flag upside down is a standardized signal of distress. Flying the flag backwards is disrespectful.
The flag should never be used for purposes other than flying. Therefore, the flag should not be used in any advertisements; as a costume or article of clothing; or as a covering for a table, desk, or podium. The only exception to this rule is that a flag patch may be worn on uniforms of certain government personnel, including those in the military, fire fighting, and police forces.
The flag should never touch the ground or be dipped to any person or other object. There are specific instructions for folding the U.S. flag. Instructions for folding, which requires two people, can be found here.
The United States flag should be kept as clean as possible. If the flag becomes damaged, or if it has been used in an inappropriate manner, it should be destroyed in a dignified flag burning ceremony.
When the Flag of the United States is displayed with other flags, such as flags of other states or organizations, the United States flag should be the first flag raised and the last flag lowered. The U.S. flag should be at the top of the pole if it is flying with other flags. If the flags are on separate poles, no flags should fly higher than the United States flag, and the U.S. flag should be on its own right (the observer’s left). The United States flag should not be smaller than any of the other flags. When the U.S. flag flies with flags of other countries, each flag should be on a separate pole, all the flags should be raised and lowered at the same time, and all flags should fly at the same height.