The U.S. National Anthem

The words were written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, who had been inspired by the sight of the American flag still flying over Fort McHenry after a night of heavy British bombardment. The text was immediately set to a popular melody of the time, "To Anacreon in Heaven."

The National Anthem consists of four verses. On almost every occasion only the first verse is sung.

Description: How to display the Flag of the United States

Source: Our Flag, U.S. Congress

How should the U.S. flag be honored? How should it be displayed? The following provides that information:

Saluting the flag


Salute the flag when it is six paces from the viewer and hold it until the flag has passed six paces beyond. Salute the flag at the first note of the National Anthem and hold the salute until the last note is played. Never use a flag as a decoration – use bunting.

When in civilian attire - MEN remove hats and hold at left shoulder with hand over heart; without hat, place right hand, palm open, over heart. WOMEN should place right hand, palm open, over heart. When in athletic clothing, face the flag or music, remove hat or cap and stand at attention; a hand salute is not given.

Carrying the flag


When marching - Carry the flag on the right in any procession or parade. If there are many other flags, carry the flag in the front center position.


If you are carrying a flag - Hold the flag at a slight angle from your body. You can also carry it with one hand and rest it on your right shoulder.

Displaying the flag outdoors


On a vehicle – Attach the flag to the antenna or clamp the flagstaff to the right fender. Do not lay the flag over the vehicle.


On a building – Hang the flag on a staff or on a rope over the sidewalk with the stars away from the building.


Over the street – Hang the flag with the stars to the east on a north- south street or north on an east-west street.


Above other flags – Hang the flag above any other flag on the same pole


Other flags, separate poles – Hang all flags on equal poles. Hang the U.S. flag on its own right, hoist it first and lower it last.


In a window – Hang the flag vertically with the stars to the left of anyone looking at it from the street.


Half-mast – This is a sign of mourning. Raise the flag to the top of the pole then lower it to the half way point. Before lowering the flag, raise it to the top again at the end of the day.


Upside down – An upside-down flag is considered a distress signal.

Displaying the flag indoors


Multiple staffs – If you display the flag on a staff with other flags around it, place the flag at the center and highest point. Crossed staffs - Keep the flagstaff higher and on its own right.


Behind a speaker – Hang the flag flat on the wall. Do not decorate the podium or table with the flag. Use bunting for decoration.


Next to a speaker – Place the flag in a stand on the speaker’s right. Use the same placement for a religious service.


In a hall or lobby – Hang the flag vertically across from the main entrance with the stars to the left of anyone coming through the door.


On a casket – Drape the flag with its canton at the head and over the left shoulder of the body. Do not lower the flag into the grave.

'Top Ten' Flag Myths

The Flag Code is The American Legion Flag Code.
On Flag Day, June 14, 1923, The American Legion and representatives of 68 other patriotic, fraternal, civic and military organizations met in Washington, DC for the purpose of drafting a code of flag etiquette. The 77th Congress adopted this codification of rules as public law on June 22, 1942. It is Title 4, United States Code Chapter 1.

A flag that has been used to cover a casket cannot be used for any other proper display purpose.
A flag that has been used to cover a casket can be used for any proper display purpose to include displaying this flag from a staff or flagpole.

The Flag Code prohibits the display of a United States flag of less than 50 stars.
According to the U.S. Army Institute of Heraldry the United States flag never becomes obsolete. Any officially approved American flag, irrespective of the number or arrangement of the stars and/or stripes may continue to be used and displayed until no longer serviceable.

The Flag Code does provide for penalties for violations of any of its provisions.
The Flag Code is simply a guideline for proper flag etiquette. The law does not provide penalties for violation of any of its provisions.

You must destroy the flag when it touches the ground.
As long as the flag remains suitable for display, the flag may continue to be displayed as a symbol of our great country.

The Flag Code prohibits the washing or dry-cleaning of the flag.
There are no provisions of the Flag Code, which prohibit the washing or dry-cleaning of the flag. The decision to wash or dry-clean would of course depend upon the type of material.

There has been a change to the Flag Code that no longer requires the flag to be properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.
There has been NO CHANGE to Flag Code section 6(a), which states: “It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flag staffs 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.”

The mayor, a town official, or the Post Commander can order the flag to be displayed at half-staff.
The gesture of placing the flag at half-staff means that the Nation or the state mourns the death of a highly regarded National or state figure, hence only the President of the United States or the Governor of the state may order the Flag to be half-staffed in accordance with Flag Code section 7(m). Those individuals and agencies that usurp authority and display the flag at half-staff on inappropriate occasions are quickly eroding the honor and reverence accorded this solemn act.

The Flag Code states that when the flag is no longer a fitting emblem for display it is to be disposed of by burning in private.
The Flag Code as revised and adopted by the Congress of the United States in 1942 has never included the word(s) "private" or "in privacy." Section 8(k) of the Flag Code states: "The flag, when it is in such a condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning." Since 1937, The American Legion has promoted the use of a public flag disposal ceremony. This ceremony is a fitting tribute and an overt expression of patriotism, which enhances the public's understanding of honor and respect due the American flag.

The Flag Code prohibits the “fringing” of the flag.
Fringing of the flag is neither approved of nor prohibited by the Flag Code. The American Legion considers that fringe is used as an honorable enrichment to the Flag. Additionally the courts have deemed without merit and frivolous, lawsuits that contend that the gold fringe adorning the flag conferred Admiralty/Maritime jurisdiction.

The POW/MIA flag is a reminder of missing U.S. troops.

The POW/MIA flag was created in 1971 by the National League of Families to represent U.S. troops who were taken prisoner of war or went missing in action during the Vietnam War. The flag is black and white and features a person's silhouette, a guard tower and barbed wire, along with the phrases "POW/MIA" and "You are not forgotten."


The 101st Congress passed U.S. Public Law 101-355 on Aug. 10, 1990, recognizing the POW/MIA flag and designating it "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."

Required Display

The POW/MIA must be displayed at the White House; the U.S. Capitol; the departments of State, Defense and Veterans Affairs; the Selective Service System headquarters; major military installations as designated by the secretary of the defense; federal cemeteries; medical centers of the Department of Veterans Affairs; and all U.S. Postal Service offices. Congress also requires the National Vietnam Veterans, Korean War Veterans and World War II memorials to display the flag daily.

Required Dates

According to the National League of Families, Section 1082 of the 1998 Defense Authorization Act requires that several federal government entities fly the flag fly six days each year: Armed Forces Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, Independence Day, National POW/MIA Recognition Day and Veterans Day.

How to Display

The POW/MIA flag can be flown on the same pole as the U.S. flag. The POW/MIA flag should not be larger than the U.S. flag and should be placed directly below it on the flagpole. If the POW/MIA flag is being flown on a separate pole, it should be placed to the left of the U.S. flag.


Many U.S. states also display the POW/MIA flag with the U.S. and state flags. If all three flags are displayed on one pole, the U.S. flag goes on top, followed by the POW/MIA flag and then the state flag. If there are two flagpoles, the POW/MIA flag flies under the U.S. flag on the pole to the right, and the state flag flies on the other pole.