Top 12 Mistakes People Make When Displaying the American Flag

The United States flag serves as a symbol of freedom and pride for the American people. It is an icon with etiquette odes that people love to display in their homes and business places. It has a profound significance that embodies solidarity and liberty and symbolizes unity and the American spirit. Hanging the American flag with respect while complying with the codes is a significant act that respects the nation and its values. There is a right and wrong way of displaying the American flag. Unfortunately, there are mistakes that people make unintentionally that turn into disrespect. Recognizing these mistakes to avoid them and showing the flag in honor is essential.

1. Letting the Flag Touch the Ground

Letting the flag touch the ground is a huge mistake. You must never let the flag touch the ground as a tenet of flag-flying etiquette. This etiquette is based on respect for the nation and the sacrifices the people of America have made. Therefore, always ensure you handle the flag properly and use the correct folding technique to avoid any contact with the ground.

2. Flying a Damaged Flag

It is wrong to display a damaged flag, whether faded, torn, or frayed. Instead, replace it with a new one to maintain its value. Flying a tattered or damaged flag is a sign of disrespect that should not be condoned. Go through the international flag selection to find a new American flag for display. If it is damaged, use the correct protocol to dispose of it.

3. Fly the Flag with Another on the Same Mast

Flying the American flag with another one on the same mast is another mistake. Instead, if you have to display other flags, always hang the American flag on a separate mast. No banner should be placed below or above this flag or on the same level. If you are hanging multiple national flags, do it on different poles.

4. Reversing the Union

Many people also make the mistake of displaying the flag when the union is in reverse. Don’t worry about the union’s position if you are flying the banner on a pole. However, the union should always be in the upper left corner when displaying it on a wall or flat surface. The blue patch contains stars that represent the number of states. Therefore, never reverse it since it may be considered a sign of distress.

5. Flying the Flag in the Dark

You may do it round the clock if you decide to display the flag in your home or business. Technically, you should never fly the banner after sunset without proper lighting. It is a code violation. The code states that a custom flag display should be done from sunrise to evening, after which it should be taken down until the next day. However, in patriotic instances, the flag can be displayed for 24 hours in an adequately illuminated place at night. You can put up lighting in your yard or other fixtures that illuminate the area so that people can see the flag well.

6. Leaving the Flag Out in Bad Weather

Strong winds, snowstorms, and heavy rain can damage the American flag and lower its integrity. That means leaving it out in bad weather is disrespectful. So, monitor the weather if you want to hang the banner outside. You can choose a location where it is not vulnerable to weather elements. If there is a coming storm, avoid displaying the flag. It should be hanging on days when the weather is favorable.

7. Altering Its Appearance

It is advisable to avoid altering the flag’s appearance by adding other symbols or text. The colors and design should remain intact. Ensure the flag remains in its original state and unaltered to display respect for what it stands for.

8. Carrying the Flag Horizontally

You can mimic the football pregame ceremonies and carry the flag horizontally. It is a no-no. The etiquette code states that the flag must always be displayed freely.

9. Burning a Dirty Flag

The flag has become dirty, and you think the only thing you can do is to destroy it. That is wrong. While you should protect it from dirt, never burn an American flag. Wash or dry-clean it, but pay close attention to the material to avoid running it. You may also think about tossing it away. A primary etiquette is that the flag is crucial and should never be thrown in the garbage. If the flag is destroyed so that it is no longer functional, it should be destroyed dignifiedly.

10. Flying the Flag Half-Staff without an Order

A soldier, veteran, or friend may have passed, and you want to honor them by flying the flag half-mast. It is also wrong and a code violation. Instead, look for another way of respecting them. According to the etiquette, only the state governor or president should order lowering the flag to half-mast when honoring a fallen soldier. Flying the flag half-staff is a symbol of mourning and respect. Therefore, it should be done with the correct authorization. Doing so without an order diminishes its significance.

11. Replacing the Star with Other Images

Some individuals have the habit of wearing American flags as t-shirts or swimsuits. You will also come across the flags sewn on clothes. It is wrong and a violation of the codes. No part of the flag should be used as a uniform or costume. For the same reasons, replacing the stars with other images is wrong. As mentioned, every star represents a state in the country. Therefore, never replace them with different ideas.

12. Letting Celebrities Sign the Flag

No matter how excited you are about meeting a celebrity, never give them the flag for an autograph. It is disrespectful and lowers its dignity. It can be tempting to ask a mayor, a celebrity actor, or a musician to autograph the flag. It is an etiquette violation. The flag must never have any mark, letter, figure, sign, picture, or drawing. Maintain its original state at all times.


These are American flag etiquette codes to which every person who wishes to fly the flag must adhere. The flag is iconic and must be handled with utmost respect. These mistakes diminish its value and significance. Therefore, avoid them at all costs.

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