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.