Show Your Pride in Your New Marine by Knowing American Flag Etiquette

When your new Marine comes home on ‘boot leave,’ he or she will be a different person. One of the biggest differences will be their attentiveness to matters of military courtesy, including how your American and Marine Corps flags are displayed at home.

Marine Corps flag and American flag flying on the front of a house

Here are some tips on how to properly fly, hang, or otherwise display the National Ensign (the naval services name for the American flag).

Tip #1: Keep it Left.

If your flag is flying on a staff or pole, just make sure it’s upright.

If you fly the American flag next to any other flags, the American flag takes the position of honor…which means it is to the far left of the entire arrangement as you view the arrangement from the front.

The American Flag always takes the position of honor at the far left.
The American Flag always takes the position of honor at the far left.

You can hang American flags vertically, but…’keep it left.’ The blue field of stars should be in the upper left as you look at the flag.

U.S. Flag hanging vertically, with blue field of stars (‘canton’) at upper left.
U.S. Flag hanging vertically, with blue field of stars (‘canton’) at upper left.

The flag can also be hung horizontally, but again the canton is to the left as you view the flag.

American flag hanging horizontally.
American flag hanging horizontally.

Tip #2: Treat the Flag with Respect.

The U.S. Flag and the Marine Corps Flag are important symbols of history, culture, freedom, and doing something bigger than yourself. Always treat the flags with respect.

American flag on the ground
This is never okay.

Never ball them up when you’re not using them; don’t let them touch the ‘deck’ (the ground); and if you see that they’re starting to look tattered and frayed, take it down and get new ones. The Veterans of Foreign Wars offers information about proper disposal of worn American flags.

Tip #3: Know When and How to Salute.

Here are the basics: when the National Anthem plays, or when a color guard passes in front of you, or during the Pledge of Allegiance, stand ‘at attention.’

Stand up a little straighter, square your shoulders, and place your right hand over your heart.

If you’re a man and wearing a hat, take your hat off and hold it over your heart.

Hand over the heart facing the American flag

Sergeant Dakota Meyer, USMC, at NY Giants game.
Sergeant Dakota Meyer, USMC, at NY Giants game.

For more information about displaying the American flag, check out the following link:

If you use a flagpole at home, consult this link to learn more about half-mast procedures.


  1. Jen williams


  2. Jack E wallace

    Question: Is it appropriate to fly the USMC colors below the US flag on the same flag pole ?

    • Hi Jack – Sure, you can certainly fly the USMC colors on the same pole as the US flag. The US flag must always remain in the top position (above any other flags).

  3. Scharolette Chappell

    My Dad passed Christmas day 2017 he was in the Marines from 1951 to 1970’s on and off, awe the stories, places all over the world,people he still new their names up till he passed, served two tours in Vietnam and Korea. He was game warden at camp pendleton California and sergeant at camp lajune n carolina. He had sharpshooting metals, deferent bars of all kinds it seemed like, but couldn’t find any of them when he passed, not his dress blues,nor his American flag in,a wood and glass case nor his marine flag, will marines replace these items? I am his only child, his fishing buddy and he carried me on his shoulders when I was a kid while he was squirrel hunting, his favorite place was Kodiak in alaska, of all places in the world! The guys all called him pappy his last tour in Nam he was only 5’7″ tall least of the guys, but because of his heart he was the biggest of the big, big men. Loving memory Semper Fi

  4. Kimberly

    Is it appropriate to fly an official Marine Flag when you have no affiliation via self or family to the Marines ?


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