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Congressional reference tool for flag protocol

At the Flags Bay store website and The Daily Flag, there are links to the U.S. Flag Code, which I hope are useful to our readers.

US Flag Flying 1Today I discovered The United States Flag: Federal Law Relating to Display and Associated Questions while searching for some particular information about flag protocol. I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I found this, which is a stepping stone to what I need.

It was prepared by the Congressional Research Service for members of Congress. It addresses the flag code and the National Anthem, and combines the relevant portions of Title 4 and Title 36 from the U.S. Code into one detailed and cross-referenced document. It will be a worthy addition to your reference materials.

From the title page:

The United States Flag:
Federal Law Relating to Display and Associated Questions


This report presents, verbatim, the United States “Flag Code” as found in Title
4 of the United States Code and the section of Title 36 which designates the Star-
Spangled Banner as the national anthem and how to display the flag during its
rendition. The “Flag Code” includes instruction and rules on such topics as the
pledge of allegiance, display and use of the flag by civilians, time and occasions for
display, position and manner of display, and how to show respect for the flag. The
“Code” also grants to the President the authority to modify the rules governing the

The report also addresses several of the frequently asked questions concerning
the flag. The subject matter of these questions includes the pledge of allegiance and
the court decisions concerning it, the nature of the codifications of customs
concerning the flag in the “Flag Code,” display of the flag 24 hours a day, flying the
flag in bad weather, flying the flag at half-staff, ornaments on the flag, destruction of
worn flags, display of the U.S. flag with flags of other nations or of States,
commercial use of the flag, size and proportion of the flag, and restrictions upon
display of the flag by real estate associations.

4 thoughts on “Congressional reference tool for flag protocol

  1. There’s a great reference at with all the info from that pdf plus loads more examples and details.

  2. Thank you Dave. Their website (front page anyway) looks updated from the last time I looked at it. I am slowly building references for The Daily Flag, so it is useful to see what others have done.

  3. Reference: Swearing in of a California Congressman (Cardenas) in his San Fernando district, Saturday, 23 February 2013.

    We are an Army JROTC unit. They have requested we assist with the Color Guard.

    What is appropriate? (a) a standard 4 person Color Guard; (b) A five person Color Guard with the California Flag; or, a five person Color Guard with the MIA/POW flag?

    We are looking for the correct protocol. Are there choices?

    Thanks for your assistance,

    Marc Jenkins
    Van Nuys High School
    Army JROTC

    1. Dear Mr. Jenkins,

      Thank you for your letter. A junior ROTC unit treads a fine line between the civilian world and the military world, but in my opinion, your Color Guard should follow guidelines set forth by U.S. Army regulations. Your authority from the U.S. Army, not a civilian source.

      My copy of U.S. Army flag regulations is very out of date, so I need to download the current documents, and if you don’t new flag regs, you should probably do the same. I can tell you that you should NOT include the POW/MIA flag. The rules for displaying the POW/MIA flag are extremely specific, and a military Color Guard would never carry this flag . (I will come back to this later, to explain and clarify.)

      I am not sure what is standard, but I recommend this: in the forward marching position from the right—an armed “honor guard,” the U.S. flag bearer, the California state flag bearer, your JROTC unit flag, and another armed honor guard on the left end. You could eliminate the JROTC unit flag, but I think if you are asked to be the Color Guard, you should have the honor of carrying your unit flag, too. So that’s five across—three flag bearers and two honor guards on each end.

      Best wishes,
      Deborah Hendrick
      you can phone me if you want—830-899-4464

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