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Flying the U.S. Flag with others flags

Three FlagsVillageLakes Flags

Which Flag Display is Correct?

The display on the left flies the U.S. flag in the center and the other flies it at one end. Which flag display is correct? Be aware … this is a trick question.

The quick answer … they’re both correct, and it all has to do with staff height. Let me show you how this works.

From the U.S. Flag Code

Section 7(e) states:

(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.

Clearly this means to fly the American flag in the center at the highest point. This means the first display is correct because the center staff is taller than the other two, making the U.S. flag centered and highest.

So what about the second picture with the American flag on one end of the display? If the first picture is right, how can this one also be correct? Let’s go back to the flag code, same section, next paragraph.

(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.

This paragraph in the flag code contains a lot of information, but for this discussion look at the bold text. This is referring to staffs of the same height and stipulates that no flag is flown to the United States flag’s right. This has led to the memory hook of always flying the American flag at its own right. Meaning, from the flag’s perspective, the U.S. flag is always stationed at its right.

Flying three or more flags can be quite eye-catching; let’s just make sure we fly them properly. To determine the correct way to fly three or more, look to the height of the staffs.

9 thoughts on “Flying the U.S. Flag with others flags

  1. […] The problems seem to crop up when multiple flag poles, of the same height are installed. I wrote an article about this last February regarding two different displays of three flag poles. In the examples given in that article, both […]

  2. […] « Flying the U.S. Flag with others flags The State Flag of Oklahoma […]

  3. Is this lineup correct in a parade

    us flag,state flag,pow flag,organization flag,
    us flag,state flag, organization flag, pow flag

  4. Hi Bob,

    Thank you so much for writing. You have asked a very good question.

    On the six days of the year listed below, the POW-MIA flag is honored with extraordinary status, and flies next to the U.S. flag. If the parade is held on one of those days, then the POW-MIA flag (would fly or) be carried next to the U.S. flag. Understand that some people will challenge this because they do not know about this particular provision.

    * Armed Forces Day, the third Saturday in May
    * Memorial Day, the last Monday in May
    * Flag Day, June 14
    * Independence Day, July 4
    * National POW/MIA Recognition Day, the third Friday in September
    * Veterans Day, November 11

    But the POW-MIA flag is also an organizational flag, belonging to the National League of Families. On the other days of the year, and depending on what the other organizational flag is, the POW-MIA flag would fly last, predicated on the official date of the other organization.

    For example, the Boy Scouts of American founded in 1910, (even before the VFW in 1913 or American Legion in 1919), so the BSA flag would come before the POW-MIA flag, whose founding organization incorporated in 1970.

    This is an example of historical tradition agreed upon in the absence of actual law regarding the protocol of “organizational flags.” But the precedence comes from the flags of the Armed Forces being placed in order of their founding by acts of Congress. Likewise, the state flags are flown in the order by which the states came into the Union.

    It’s a simple method that works. I hope this answers your question.

  5. My question is this: Three equal height poles located in front of a business. Flags currently displayed are the U.S. Flag, the State Flag, and a Corporate Flag, all flown from separate poles. If a POW/MIA flag is added, where should it fly, and which flag should be on which pole?

    Thank you.

  6. Fred,

    THe POW/MIA flag may be flown below the U.S. flag in this instance. THe order you state is correct: US, State, Corporate, with the US flag being at its right (viewer’s left).

    1. Oh no! I missed a question—from a long time ago. Thank you De Remlap for answering Fred. Fred? Are you still out there? I’m sorry.

  7. When flying the POW/MIA flag on tbe same flagpole with the Stars and Stripes, Is there a proper distance to place the POW/MIA flag from underneath the U.S Flag? Some have it directly underneath and others have a space anywhere from a a Ft and a 1/2.Also, the POW flag was of a lightweight vinyl material and the US flag was made of a slightly heavier fabric material causing the

    US flag to be still and POW flag to wave in lighter winds..Should the US Flag be switched out to the vinyl like material of the other flag so as to wave along with its subordinate? And is there something to use to keep them from sun fading? The Florida sun is very very strong and fades every one put up extremely quick.Thank You!

    BUCN Bryant, J (NMCB 21 all

    1. Hello Jeffrey. Thank you for writing. Unfortunately, the Flag Code does not mention how far apart we should place flags on the same halyard. Years ago, I found a U.S. Cavalry flag manual, circa 1870 (I found it on the internet) that said flags should be spaced apart “about the width of a man’s hand.” I extrapolated that from that bit of information, and now advise spacing the flags from four to six inches apart. I failed to bookmark the site, and I have never found it again. That is the only information I ever found on the subject. But it seems appropriate and looks fine (I think).

      Regarding the loft on flags of two different materials. There’s just not much you can do about it. You might eventually try to fly flags from the same fabric although POW/MIA flags are always printed, and U.S. flags are generally pieced which, makes them heavier. So the POW/MIA flag will always loft more easily.

      The sun is hard on flags. Flags made out of dye-sublimated fabrics hold up best. The dye is injected into the fabric with heat and pressure so that it permeates the thread entirely instead of merely coating the surface of the thread. The Hercules polyester flags that I sell on my website are a great choice.

      For what it’s worth—the U.S. government calculates that a federal installation (post office, court house, other similar buildings) will need four U.S. flags a year. Some places will need more, and other locations will need less depending on their weather. I am in Texas, and like Florida, our flags take a beating from sun (and wind, if you live in the panhandle 🙂 )

      I hope this helps.
      Best wishes,
      Deborah Hendrick

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