How to Properly Display a Military Flag

There are certain guidelines that should be followed when displaying any military flags. This ensures that the proper respect is attributed to the flags while also creating a consistent display across different facilities and events. Use these tips to ensure that your military flags are displayed in the correct manner.

Order of Precedence

One of the most important matters when deciding how to properly display a military flag is setting the flags out in the correct order of precedence. For military flags, that order from left to right should be:

  • Army
  • Marine Corps
  • Navy
  • Air Force
  • Coast Guard

If displayed on a single pole, the flags should be flown from top to bottom in the order listed above, with Army flying the highest on the pole.

There is one notable exception to this order. When the Coast Guard is serving the Department of the Navy during times of war, the Coast Guard flag should be moved up so that is equal to the Navy flag, with the Navy flag placed just in front of the Coast Guard flag.

Flag Protocol

For each of the military flags, specific protocols should be followed to ensure that each one is displayed correctly. Use the following guidelines when hanging these military flags:

  • Army: The Army flag should be flown above all designated Army posts and in all parades with Army representation. Streamers representing various U.S. Army campaigns may be displayed along with the flag.
  • Marine Corps: The Marine Corps flag should feature a hand-knotted fringe when displayed for official purposes. Scarlet and yellow streamers with tassels at each end may also be displayed along with the flag.
  • Navy: The Navy flag should be flown for any official Navy functions and when Navy officials attend a public gathering. The flag does not have any authorized cords or tassels, but battle streamers measuring up to 4 feet long may be included when on display.
  • Air Force: When displaying the Air Force flag, the eagle’s head should be facing the staff on both sides. A full-size (4’4” x 5’6”) AF flag may have streamers, but smaller versions should not.
  • Coast Guard: There are two official flags for the U.S. Coast Guard. The Ensign is only to be used by official Coast Guard law enforcement, while the Standard should be used for parades and ceremonies.


There are special considerations that should be taken into account when a POW/MIA flag will also be flown with military flags. Generally, a POW/MIA flag should be flown directly below the U.S. flag when using a single pole. If there is a separate pole available for the POW/MIA flag, it should be displayed on its own directly to the right of the U.S. flag.

U.S. Flags

In many cases, U.S. flags are flown in conjunction with military flags. For that reason, it’s important to keep in mind some of the protocols for correctly display the American flag. When the U.S. flag is included in a military flag displayed, it should be displayed first (farthest to the left). The military flags should be displayed in descending order to the right of the U.S. flag, beginning with the Army flag.

Use these tips to learn how to properly display a military flag for any type of facility or public function. For a great selection of high-quality flags, check out our selection of military flags at Glendale Parade Store.

Flag Display Protocol

Days on which the U.S. flag should be displayed in mourning by Order of Congress:

  • Peace Officer's Memorial Day on May 15th.
  • Memorial Day on the last Monday in May but only until noon.
  • Patriot Day on September 11th.
  • Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day on December 7th.


  • Display the flag with the blue union field up; never display the flag upside down, except as a distress signal.
  • Hold the flag carefully; never let it touch anything beneath it: the ground, shrubs, floor, water, or merchandise.
  • Because the U.S. flag is the symbol of our nation, it should be displayed in the most prominent, most honored position.

On a wall: When the flag is displayed on a wall, it should be displayed with the union uppermost and to the observer's left.

In multi-national flag displays: In the United States, the U.S. flag should be displayed first (to its own right) followed by the flags of all other countries - at equal height and in alphabetical order - to the left (observer's right) of the U.S. flag.

When flags from two or more nations are displayed, the flag code forbids the display of any nation's flag in a position superior to another in time of peace. Each flag should be of approximately equal size and flown at the same height. [The United Nations Headquarters Building in New York City, where the U.N. flag holds the most prominent position, is the only U.S. location exempt from this provision.]

Among subordinate flags: When the U.S. flag is among a group of subordinate flags, the U.S. flag should be at the center and the highest point - the position of prominence.

Displayed from a staff: When displayed from a staff, the flag should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and to the speaker's right (facing the audience). If other flags are also displayed, they should be displayed to the speaker's left.

On a pole: When several flags are flown from the same pole, the U.S. flag should always be at the top - except during church services by naval chaplains at sea when the church pennant may be flown above the U.S. flag on the ship's mast.

On a lapel: When the flag is displayed as a lapel pin, it should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.

In processions: The flag should be to the right of the marchers. When other flags are included, the U.S. flag should be centered in front of the others or carried to their right.

At memorials, burials, and funerals: During these services, the flag should lay over the casket with the blue field covering the head and left shoulder. The flag must not be lowered into the grave or be allowed to touch the ground at any time.