Title 36, U.S. Code, Chapter 10 - PATRIOTIC CUSTOMS
Sec. 170. National anthem; Star-Spangled Banner
The composition consisting of the words and music known as The Star-Spangled Banner is
designated the national anthem of the United States of America.
Sec. 171. Conduct during playing
During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except
those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the
heart. Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it
at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should render the
military salute at the first note of the anthem and retain this position until the last
note. When the flag is not displayed, those present should face toward the music and act
in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed there.
Sec. 172. Pledge of allegiance to the flag; manner of delivery
The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, ''I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United
States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God,
indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.'', should be rendered by standing at
attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. When not in uniform men
should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the
hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and
render the military salute.
Sec. 173. Display and use of flag by civilians; codification of rules and
The following codification of existing rules and customs pertaining to the display and use
of the flag of the United States of America is established for the use of such civilians
or civilian groups or organizations as may not be required to conform with regulations
promulgated by one or more executive departments of the Government of the United States.
The flag of the United States for the purpose of this chapter shall be defined according
to sections 1
and 2 of title 4 and Executive Order 10834 issued pursuant thereto.
Sec. 174. Time and occasions for display
- (a) Display on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in open; night
It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings
and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the
flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of
- (b) Manner of hoisting
The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.
- (c) Inclement weather
The flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, except when an all
weather flag is displayed.
- (d) Particular days of display
The flag should be displayed on all days, especially on New Year's Day, January 1;
Inauguration Day, January 20; Lincoln's Birthday, February 12; Washington's Birthday,
third Monday in February; Easter Sunday (variable); Mother's Day, second Sunday in May;
Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May; Memorial Day (half-staff until noon), the last
Monday in May; Flag Day, June 14; Independence Day, July 4; Labor Day, first Monday in
September; Constitution Day, September 17; Columbus Day, second Monday in October; Navy
Day, October 27; Veterans Day, November 11; Thanksgiving Day, fourth Thursday in November;
Christmas Day, December 25; and such other days as may be proclaimed by the President of
the United States; the birthdays of States (date of admission); and on State holidays.
- (e) Display on or near administration building of public
The flag should be displayed daily on or near the main administration building of every
- (f) Display in or near polling places
The flag should be displayed in or near every polling place on election days.
- (g) Display in or near schoolhouses
The flag should be displayed during school days in or near every schoolhouse.
Sec. 175. Position and manner of display
The flag, when carried in a procession with another flag or flags, should be either on the
marching right; that is, the flag's own right, or, if there is a line of other flags, in
front of the center of that line.
- (a) The flag should not be displayed on a float in a parade
except from a staff, or as provided in subsection (i) of this section.
- (b) The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or
back of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat. When the flag is displayed on a
motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.
- (c) No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the
same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church
services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above
the flag during church services for the personnel of the Navy. No person shall display the
flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag equal, above, or in
a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United
States at any place within the United States or any Territory or possession thereof:
Provided, That nothing in this section shall make unlawful the continuance of the practice
heretofore followed of displaying the flag of the United Nations in a position of superior
prominence or honor, and other national flags in positions of equal prominence or honor,
with that of the flag of the United States at the headquarters of the United Nations.
- (d) The flag of the United States of America, when it is
displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the right,
the flag's own right, and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.
- (e) 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 or
localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.
- (f) When flags of States, cities, or localities, or pennants of
societies are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the United States, the latter
should always be at the peak. When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of
the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be
placed above the flag of the United States or to the United States flag's right.
- (g) When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to
be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately
equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that
of another nation in time of peace.
- (h) When the flag of the United States is displayed from a staff
projecting horizontally or at an angle from the window sill, balcony, or front of a
building, the union of the flag should be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag
is at half staff. When the flag is suspended over a sidewalk from a rope extending from a
house to a pole at the edge of the sidewalk, the flag should be hoisted out, union first,
from the building.
- (i) When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a
wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the
observer's left. When displayed in a window, the flag should be displayed in the same way,
with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.
- (j) When the flag is displayed over the middle of the street,
it should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street
or to the east in a north and south street.
- (k) When used on a speaker's platform, the flag, if displayed
flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a
church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the
position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor
at the clergyman's or speaker's right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so
displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker or to the right of the
- (l) The flag should form a distinctive feature of the ceremony
of unveiling a statue or monument, but it should never be used as the covering for the
statue or monument.
- (m) The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted
to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be
again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day the flag should
be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff. By order
of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal
figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or
possession, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other
officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to
Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices
not inconsistent with law. In the event of the death of a present or former official of
the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States, the Governor
of that State, territory, or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown
at half-staff. The flag shall be flown at half-staff thirty days from the death of the
President or a former President; ten days from the day of death of the Vice President, the
Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House
of Representatives; from the day of death until interment of an Associate Justice of the
Supreme Court, a Secretary of an executive or military department, a former Vice
President, or the Governor of a State, territory, or possession; and on the day of death
and the following day for a Member of Congress. The flag shall be flown at halfstaff on
Peace Officers Memorial Day, unless that day is also Armed Forces Day. As used in this
- (1) the term ''half-staff'' means the position of the flag
it is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the
- (2) the term ''executive or military department'' means any
agency listed under sections 101 and 102 of title 5; and
(3) the term ''Member of Congress'' means a Senator, a
Representative, a Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from
- (n) When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so
placed that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be
lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground.
- (o) When the flag is suspended across a corridor or lobby in a
building with only one main entrance, it should be suspended vertically with the union of
the flag to the observer's left upon entering. If the building has more than one main
entrance, the flag should be suspended vertically near the center of the corridor or lobby
with the union to the north, when entrances are to the east and west or to the east when
entrances are to the north and south. If there are entrances in more than two directions,
the union should be to the east.
Sec. 176. Respect for flag
No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should
not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or
institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.
- (a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down,
except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
- (b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the
ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
- (c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but
always aloft and free.
- (d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or
drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to
fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white
in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker's desk, draping
the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.
- (e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored
in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
- (f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
- (g) The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of
it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or
drawing of any nature.
- (h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving,
holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
- (i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any
manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or
handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or
anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be
fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.
- (j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or
athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military
personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents
a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin
being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.
- (k) The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer
a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by
Sec. 177. Conduct during hoisting, lowering or passing of flag
During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the flag is passing in a
parade or in review, all persons present except those in uniform should face the flag and
stand at attention with the right hand over the heart. Those present in uniform should
render the military salute. When not in uniform, men should remove their headdress with
their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Aliens
should stand at attention. The salute to the flag in a moving column should be rendered at
the moment the flag passes
Sec. 178. Modification of rules and customs by President
Any rule or custom pertaining to the display of the flag of the United States of America,
set forth herein, may be altered, modified, or repealed, or additional rules with respect
thereto may be prescribed, by the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United
States, whenever he deems it to be appropriate or desirable; and any such alteration or
additional rule shall be set forth in a proclamation.
Sec. 179. Design for service flag; persons entitled to display flag
The Secretary of Defense is authorized and directed to approve a design for a service
flag, which flag may be displayed in a window of the place of residence of persons who are
members of the immediate family of a person serving in the armed forces of the United
States during any period of war or hostilities in which the Armed Forces of the United
States may be engaged.
Sec. 180. Design for service lapel button; persons entitled to wear button
The Secretary of Defense is also authorized and directed to approve a design for a service
lapel button, which button may be worn by members of the immediate family of a person
serving in the armed forces of the United States during any period of war or hostilities
in which the Armed Forces of the United States may be engaged.
Sec. 181. Approval of designs by Secretary of Defense; license to manufacture
and sell; penalties
Upon the approval by the Secretary of Defense of the design for such service flag and
service lapel button, he shall cause notice thereof, together with a description of the
approved flag and button, to be published in the Federal Register. Thereafter any person
may apply to the Secretary of Defense for a license to manufacture and sell the approved
service flag, or the approved service lapel button, or both. Any person, firm, or
corporation who manufactures any such service flag or service lapel button without having
first obtained such a license, or otherwise violates sections 179 to 182 of
this title, shall, upon conviction thereof, be fined not more than $1,000.
Sec. 182. Rules and regulations
The Secretary of Defense is authorized to make such rules and regulations as may be
necessary to carry out the provisions of sections 179 to 182 of
Sec. 186. National motto
The national motto of the United States is declared to be ''In God we trust.''
Sec. 187. National floral emblem
The flower commonly known as the rose is designated and adopted as the national floral
emblem of the United States of America, and the President of the United States is
authorized and requested to declare such fact by proclamation.
Sec. 188. National march
The composition by John Philip Sousa entitled ''The Stars and Stripes Forever'' is hereby
designated as the national march of the United States of America.
Sec. 189. Recognition of National League of Families POW/MIA flag
The National League of Families POW/MIA flag is hereby recognized officially and
designated as the symbol of our Nation's concern and commitment to resolving as fully as
possible the fates of Americans still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast
Asia, thus ending the uncertainty for their families and the Nation.
Sec. 189a. Display of POW/MIA flag
- (a) Required display
The POW/MIA flag shall be displayed at the locations specified in subsection (c) of this
section on POW/MIA flag display days. Such display shall serve (1) as the symbol of the
Nation's concern and commitment to achieving the fullest possible accounting of Americans
who, having been prisoners of war or missing in action, still remain unaccounted for, and
(2) as the symbol of the Nation's commitment to achieving the fullest possible accounting
for Americans who in the future may become prisoners of war, missing in action, or
otherwise unaccounted for as a result of hostile action.
- (b) Days for flag display
- (1) For purposes of this section, POW/MIA flag display days are
- (A) Armed Forces Day, the third Saturday in May.
- (B) Memorial Day, the last Monday in May.
- (D) Independence Day, July 4.
- (E) National POW/MIA Recognition Day.
- (F) Veterans Day, November 11.
- (2) In addition to the days specified in paragraph (1), POW/MIA
flag display days include -
- (A) in the case of display at medical centers of the
of Veterans Affairs (required by subsection (c)(7) of this
section), any day on which the flag of the United States is
(B) in the case of display at United States Postal Service post
offices (required by subsection (c)(8) of this section), the last
business day before a day specified in paragraph (1) that in any
year is not itself a business day.
- (c) Locations for flag display
The locations for the display of the POW/MIA flag under subsection (a) of this section are
- (3) The Korean War Veterans Memorial and the Vietnam Veterans
- (4) Each national cemetery.
- (5) The buildings containing the official office of -
- (A) the Secretary of State;
- (B) the Secretary of Defense;
- (C) the Secretary of Veterans Affairs; and
(D) the Director of the Selective Service System.
- (6) Each major military installation, as designated by the
Secretary of Defense.
- (7) Each medical center of the Department of Veterans Affairs.
- (8) Each United States Postal Service post office.
- (d) Coordination with other display requirement
Display of the POW/MIA flag at the Capitol pursuant to paragraph (1) of subsection (c) of
this section is in addition to the display of that flag in the Rotunda of the Capitol
pursuant to Senate Concurrent Resolution 5 of the 101st Congress, agreed to on February
22, 1989 (103 Stat. 2533).
- (e) Display to be in a manner visible to public
Display of the POW/MIA flag pursuant to this section shall be in a manner designed to
ensure visibility to the public.
- (f) Limitation
This section may not be construed or applied so as to require any employee to report to
work solely for the purpose of providing for the display of the POW/MIA flag.
- (g) ''POW/MIA flag'' defined
As used in this section, the term ''POW/MIA flag'' means the National League of Families
POW/MIA flag recognized officially and designated by section 189 of this
- (h) Regulations for implementation
Not later than 180 days after November 18, 1997, the head of each department, agency, or
other establishment responsible for a location specified in subsection (c) of this section
(other than the Capitol) shall prescribe such regulations as necessary to carry out this
- (i) Procurement and distribution of flags
Not later than 30 days after November 18, 1997, the Administrator of General Services
shall procure POW/MIA flags and distribute them as necessary to carry out this section.