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       Title 36—Chapter 10 , Patriotic Customs

Contents:

§ 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.*

§ 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.

Amendments

1976—Pub. L. 94-344 added requirement that during the rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all persons present except those in uniform should stand at attention, face the flag, and place the right hand over the heart and men with headdress should remove the headdress and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart and when the flag is not displayed, those present should face the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.

1942—Act Dec. 22, 1942, substituted "all present should face the flag and salute", in last sentence, for "the salute to the flag should be given".

§ 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.

Amendments

1976—Pub. L. 94-344 added requirement that during rendition of the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, all persons should face the flag and men with headdress except those in uniform should remove their headdress and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.

1954—Act June 14, 1954, inserted "under God," in the pledge.

1945—Act Dec. 28, 1945, inserted "The following is designated as", inserted the period after "justice for all.", and deleted "is rendered by standing with the right hand over the heart." in the first sentence, and inserted sentence "Such pledge should be rendered by standing with the right hand over the heart."

1942—Act Dec. 22, 1942, deleted words; "extending the right hand, palm upward, toward the flag at the words ‘to the flag’ and holding this position until the end, when the hand drops to the side.", at end of first sentence.

§ 174. Time and occasions for display

(a) Display on buildings and stationary flagstaffs in open; night display

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 darkness.

(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 institutions

The flag should be displayed daily on or near the main administration building of every public institution.

(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.

Codification

Veterans Day was substituted for Armistice Day, to conform to the

provisions of act June 1, 1954, ch. 250, 68 Stat. 168.

Amendments

1976—Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 94-344, § 1(2), substituted provision permitting display of the flag for 24 hours a day to produce a patriotic effect if flag is properly illuminated during the hours of darkness, for provision permitting night display of the flag upon special occasions when it is desired to produce a patriotic effect.

Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 94-344, § 1(3), added provision excepting display of all weather flag.

Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 94-344, § 1(4), eliminated references to "when the weather permits" following "displayed on all days" and "Army Day, April 6" preceding "Easter Sunday", added reference to "Armed Forces Day, third Saturday in May", and substituted "third Monday in February" for "February 22", "the last Monday in May" for "May 30", and "second Monday in October" for "October 12".

Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 94-344 § 1(5), struck out ", weather permitting,"

following "displayed daily".

1942—Subsec. (d). Act Dec. 22, 1942, substituted "fourth Thursday in

November" for "last Thursday in November".

§ 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 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 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 audience.

(1) 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. As used in this subsection—

(1) the term "half-staff" means the position of the flag when it is one-half

the distance between the top and bottom of the staff;

(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 Puerto Rico.

(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.

Amendments

1976—Subsec. (b.) Pub. L. 94-344, § 1(6), substituted "right fender" for "radiator cap".

Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 94-344, § 1(7), substituted "to the United States flag’s right." for "to the right of the flag of the United States.".

Subsec. (i). Pub. L. 94-344, § 1(8), substituted requirement that when the flag is displayed horizontally or vertically against a wall or in a window, the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right for requirement that when the flag is displayed otherwise than from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out, or so suspended that it falls as free as though it were staffed.

Subsec. (k). Pub. L. 94-344, § 1(9), eliminated provisions relating to flag position when displayed on a staff in the chancel of a church or speaker’s platform of an auditorium.

Subsec. (m). Pub. L. 94-344, § 1(10), added provisions relating to half-staff display of the flag on Memorial Day and upon the death of principal figures of the United States government and State governments and definitions of terms therein and eliminated provisions relating to the affixing of crepe streamers to spearheads and flagstaffs in a parade only on the order of the President.

Subsec. (o). Pub. L. 94-344, § 1(11), added subsec. (o).

1953—Subsec. (c). Act July 9, 1953, added second sentence.

1942—Subsecs. (i) and (m). Act Dec. 22, 1942, added "or so suspended that its folds fall as free as though the flag were staffed" to subsec. (i) and omitted therefrom provisions covering display against a wall or in a window, and substituted "lowering" for "hauling" in third sentence of subsec. (m).

§ 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 burning.

Amendments

1976—Par. (a). Pub. L. 94-344, § 1(12), inserted reference to instances of extreme danger to life or property.

Par. (d). Pub. L. 94-344, § 1(13), added requirement that a flag should never be used as wearing apparel or bedding.

Par. (e). Pub. L. 94-344, § 1(14), substituted "to permit" for "will permit".

Par. (i). Pub. L. 94-344, § 1(15), eliminated provision that the flag should not be used on a costume or athletic uniform.

Pars. (j), (k). Pub. L. 94-344, § 1(16), added par. (j) and redesignated former par. (j) as (k).

1942—Par. (g). Act Dec. 22, 1942, inserted "any" before "part".

§ 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.

Amendments

1976—Pub. L. 94-344 substituted in first sentence "with right hand over the heart" for ", and salute" and struck out "Men without hats should salute in the same manner." preceding "Aliens should" and "Women should salute by placing right hand over the heart." preceding "The salute to the flag".

1942—Act Dec. 22, 1942, substituted "military salute," for "righthand salute" in second sentence, "should salute in the same manner," for "merely stand at attention" in fourth sentence, and added fifth sentence.

§ 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.

Amendments

1976—Pub. L. 94-344 substituted "Armed Forces" for "Army and Navy".

1942—Act Dec. 22, 1942, reenacted section without change.

Proc. No. 2605. The Flag of the United States

Proc. No. 2605, Feb. 18, 1944, 9 F.R. 1957, 58 Stat. 1126, provided:
The flag of the United States of America is universally representative of the principles of the justice, liberty, and democracy enjoyed by the people of the United States; and

People all over the world recognize the flag of the United States as symbolic of the United States; and

The effective prosecution of the war requires a proper understanding by the people of other countries of the material assistance being given by the Government of the United States:

NOW THEREFORE, by virtue of the power vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, particularly by the Joint Resolution approved June 22, 1942, as amended by the Joint Resolution approved December 22, 1942 [sections 171 to 178 of this title], as President and Commander in Chief, it is hereby proclaimed as follows:

1. The use of the flag of the United States or any representation thereof, if approved by the Foreign Economic Administration, on labels, packages, cartons, cases, or other containers for articles or products of the United States intended for export as lend-lease aid, as relief and rehabilitation aid, or as emergency supplies for the Territories and possessions of the United States, or similar purposes, shall be considered a proper use of the flag of the United States and consistent with the honor and respect due to the flag.

2. If any article or product so labeled, packaged or otherwise bearing the flag of the United States or any representation thereof, as provided for in section 1, should, by force of circumstances, be diverted to the ordinary channels of domestic trade, no person shall be considered as violating the rules and customs pertaining to the display of the flag of the United States, as set forth in the Joint Resolution approved June 22, 1942, as amended by the Joint Resolution approved December 22, 1942, (U.S.C., Supp. 11, title 36, secs. 171-178) for possessing, transporting, displaying, selling or otherwise transferring any such article or product solely because the label, package, carton, case, or other container bears the flag of the United States or any representation thereof.

Proc. No. 4000. Display of Flag at White House

Proc. No. 4000, Sept. 4, 1970, 35 F.R. 14187, provided:
WHEREAS the joint resolution of Congress of June 22, 1942, entitled "Joint Resolution to Codify and Emphasize Existing Rules and Customs Pertaining to the Display and Use of the Flag of the United States of America," as amended by the joint resolution of December 22, 1942, 56 Stat. 1074 [sections 173 to 178 of this title], contains the following provisions:

"Sec. 2. (a) It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, the flag may be displayed at night upon special occasions when it is desired to produce a patriotic effect.


"Sec. 8. 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-Army and Navy 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."; and

WHEREAS the White House is a house that belongs to all the people; and

WHEREAS the White House, as the home of the President and his family, symbolizes the love of home and family which has long characterized our people; and

WHEREAS it is customary for many of our own citizens and many persons from other countries who visit our Nation’s Capital to view the White House at night; and

WHEREAS it is thus appropriate that the flag be flown over the White House by night as well as by day:

NOW, THEREFORE, I, RICHARD NIXON, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim that the flag of the United States of America shall hereafter be displayed at the White House at all times during the day and night, except when the weather is inclement.

The rules and customs pertaining to the display of the flag as set forth in the joint resolution of June 22, 1942, as amended, are hereby modified accordingly.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourth day of September, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and seventy, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and ninety-fifth.

Richard Nixon