Rules for displaying the American flag

May 22, 2008 at 5:37 p.m. ET

The American flag is a staple when it comes to Memorial Day and decorating with one seems like an obvious choice. However, since the holiday is really about honoring the men and women who died while serving in America's armed services, you should respect the guidelines of flag etiquette. As laid out by, when putting out any flags for your Memorial Day backyard barbecue, the following rules should be kept in mind.

Couple in front of American Flag

|1.The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.

2.The flag should not be used as a drapery or for covering a speaker's desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.

3.The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard.

4.Any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind should be placed on or attached to the flag.

5.The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.

6.When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a window, balcony, or a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff.

7.When the flag is displayed over a street, it should be hung vertically, with the union to the north or east. If the flag is suspended over a sidewalk, the flag's union should be farthest from the building.

8.The flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously. Ordinarily it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night.

9.When on display, the flag is accorded the place of honor, always positioned to its own right. Place it to the right of the speaker or staging area or sanctuary. Other flags should be to the left.

10.When displaying the flag against a wall, vertically or horizontally, the flag's union (stars) should be at the top, to the flag's own right, and to the observer's left.

11.When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.

12.The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary.