Many businesses fly not only the U.S. and state flags, but also flags associated with the business itself. If you are involved in a business that maintains such a display, you likely have some basic questions about how to appropriately fly these three flags in relation to one another. Laws and traditions associated with the flying of the U.S. flag with other flags can provide guidance.
U.S. Flag Code
The U.S. Flag Code is federal legislation enacted to delineate how the U.S. flag is displayed. From a legal standpoint, the provisions of the Flag Code rarely are enforced. Additionally, the Supreme Court held that imposing sanctions for alleged violations of the U.S. Flag Code would be unconstitutional. As a result, the Flag Code became a foundation upon which traditions associated with the display of the flag developed.
Fly each of the flags at an appropriate height as the traditions growing out of the Flag Code dictate. If there are three separate flagpoles available at the site, the ideal situation is to fly each of the flags to be displayed at different heights. If the display is in the preparation stage, you need to consider placing flagpoles at three different heights.
The U.S. flag should be flown at the highest position, followed by the state flag. The company or other flag that is displayed is flown at a level below the U.S. and state flags.
Place each flag in an appropriate order. If you have three poles with the same height, there is an appropriate ordering for the individual flags. When facing the flags while standing in front of the structure in which they are being flown, the U.S. flag is placed on the pole to the left. The state flag is flown in the middle. The company or other flag is placed on the righthand pole.
If the flagpoles are of different heights, the U.S. flag is flown on the highest pole in the middle, with the state flag to the left and the company flag to the right (again, based on facing the display on approach).
If only two flagpoles are available, the U.S. flag is flown by itself on the left flagpole. The state flag is flown on the top position of the right flagpole with the company flag underneath.
You can fly a U.S. and a state flag on the same pole. However, tradition and law dictate that you should not fly the U.S. flag on the same pole as a company flag.
Maintain proper illumination of the flags. Nighttime displays of flags are inspirational and wholly appropriate provided that the flags are well lit.
If you intend to fly the U.S. and state flag around the clock, these two flags must be lit at night. The law regarding the placement of these flags require that they never be left on a flagpole in the dark. There is no such statute or tradition for a company flag--beyond the practices of a particular business.
- Flag Etiquette: Standards of Respect
- U.S. Flag Code
- "American Flag Screen Display;" Tom DeMola; 2009
Mike Broemmel began writing in 1982. He is an author/lecturer with two novels on the market internationally, "The Shadow Cast" and "The Miller Moth." Broemmel served on the staff of the White House Office of Media Relations. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and political science from Benedictine College and a Juris Doctorate from Washburn University. He also attended Brunel University, London.