Raising and Lowering the Flag

Raising and Lowering the US Flag

Flag ceremonies play a significant role in Scouting, symbolizing honor, respect, and patriotism. Whether it’s a daily flag-raising at a Scout camp or a special ceremony on a national holiday, understanding the proper protocols is essential. This guide aims to provide a comprehensive overview of raising and lowering the US flag, covering both standard and special flag-handling scenarios.

In the following sections, we will delve into the step-by-step process of flag ceremonies, starting from the preparations before the ceremony, the actual flag-raising procedure, and the proper display of the flag. We will also explore the protocols for lowering the flag, including the half-staff protocol and the solemn playing of Taps. Additionally, we will discuss the guidelines for handling multiple flags and the specific protocols for Memorial Day.

Furthermore, this guide will provide insights into the proper folding of the flag, ensuring that it is done with the utmost care and respect. By following these guidelines, you can participate in flag ceremonies with confidence, honoring the flag and the principles it represents.

Whether you are a Scout leader, a member of the military, or simply an individual who wants to show respect for the flag, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and understanding necessary to conduct flag ceremonies with dignity and reverence. Let us now begin with the preparations before the ceremony, ensuring that the flag is in proper condition and the flagpole is ready for the ceremony.

Before the Ceremony

To ensure a smooth and respectful flag-raising ceremony, there are a few important steps to take before the actual event. These preparations will help ensure that the flag is in proper condition and that the ceremony runs smoothly.

  • Inspect Flag: Before the ceremony, it is crucial to inspect the flag for any signs of wear or dirt. Check for any tears, fraying, or discoloration. If the flag is damaged or dirty, it should be replaced or cleaned before the ceremony. This ensures that the flag is presented in its best condition, representing the honor and respect it deserves. A flag which is in poor condition should be retired.
  • Prepare Flagpole: Untangle the rope on the flagpole to ensure that it is free from any knots or tangles. This will make it easier to raise and lower the flag smoothly during the ceremony. Take the time to ensure that the rope is properly attached to the flagpole and that it is secure.
  • Assign Roles: Designate individuals for specific roles during the ceremony, such as the flag bearer, color guard, and any other necessary positions. This will help ensure that everyone knows their responsibilities and can perform their duties with confidence and precision. Assigning roles also adds a sense of organization and professionalism to the ceremony.

Raising the Flag

To properly raise the flag during a ceremony, there are a few important steps to follow. These steps ensure that the flag is handled with respect and that the raising process is executed smoothly.

  • Attach Flag: Begin by attaching the flag to the rope. Make sure the flag is securely fastened and kept off the ground at all times. This ensures that the flag remains clean and undamaged throughout the ceremony.
  • Attention: While raising the flag, it is customary for scouts in attendance to salute if in uniform or place their hand over their heart as a sign of respect. This gesture acknowledges the significance of the flag and the values it represents.
  • Raise Flag: Slowly pull the rope, gradually raising the flag until it reaches the top of the flagpole. Take care to maintain a steady and controlled pace during this process. The flag should unfurl smoothly and gracefully as it ascends.
  • Secure: Once the flag has reached the top, tie off the rope securely to prevent the flag from descending unintentionally. This ensures that the flag remains proudly displayed throughout the day.

Displaying the Flag

Displaying the flag is a powerful way to show patriotism and respect for the United States. There are certain guidelines to follow when it comes to displaying the flag to ensure it is done properly.

Firstly, it is appropriate to display the flag on all days, but it is especially important to do so on national holidays such as Independence Day, Memorial Day, and Veterans Day. Additionally, displaying the flag on state holidays and other significant dates can also be a meaningful gesture.

Normally the flag is flown from sunrise to sunset. If you choose to display the flag overnight, it must be properly illuminated. This is to ensure that the flag remains visible and respectful even in the darkness. You can use a spotlight or other appropriate lighting to achieve this.

When displaying the flag, it is important to treat it with the utmost respect. Make sure the flag is clean and in good condition. It should be displayed in a location of prominence, such as on a flagpole or in a window facing the street.

Lowering the Flag

Lowering the flag is a solemn and respectful act that requires careful attention and precision. It is often performed during ceremonies or at the end of the day. To properly lower the flag, follow these steps:

  • Attention: Scouts in position. Before beginning the lowering process, ensure that the scouts or individuals responsible for lowering the flag are in their designated positions. This ensures a smooth and coordinated effort.
  • Lower: Untie rope, lower flag. Start by untying the rope that secures the flag to the flagpole. Slowly and steadily lower the flag, maintaining control of the rope to prevent it from tangling or touching the ground. The flag should be lowered in a dignified manner, with respect and reverence.
  • Salute. Scouts at the ceremony should salute the flag or place a hand over their heart while it is being lowered. The salute should be held until the flag is removed or, if there is music, until the music stops.
  • Detach: Remove from rope, keep off the ground. Once the flag is fully lowered, carefully detach it from the rope. Be cautious not to let the flag touch the ground, as this is considered disrespectful. Instead, hold the flag securely and keep it off the ground at all times.

Half-Staff Protocol

Flying a flag at half-staff means displaying it in a position halfway between the top and bottom of the flagpole. Displaying the flag at half-staff is a significant gesture that symbolizes mourning and respect. It is typically done to honor the memory of a national figure or to commemorate a tragic event. Knowing when to display the flag at half-staff is crucial to observe this protocol correctly.

The flag should be raised to the top of the flagpole before being lowered to half-staff. This is an important step to ensure that the flag is properly positioned and then respectfully lowered. Once the flag is at half-staff, it should remain in that position for the designated period of mourning or remembrance.

The flag should be raised back to the top of the flagpole before being lowered for the day.

By following this half-staff protocol, we honor the significance of the flag and the solemn occasions it represents. It is a way to show our respect and unity as a nation during times of mourning or remembrance. Remember, the flag is a symbol of our shared values and should be treated with the utmost reverence.

Multiple Flags

When raising and lowering multiple flags, it is important to follow proper protocol. The U.S. flag should always be raised first and lowered last. This signifies the importance and respect given to the national flag. If other flags are present, they should be raised and lowered in the order of their importance or significance.

By raising the U.S. flag first, it takes precedence over the other flags and represents the unity and pride of the nation. Lowering it last is a way to honor and pay tribute to the sacrifices made by those who have served and protected the country.

This protocol ensures that the U.S. flag remains the focal point and symbol of the nation’s values and ideals. It also demonstrates respect for the other flags by acknowledging their presence and giving them their due recognition.

Whether it is during a ceremony, event, or everyday display, following the proper order when raising and lowering multiple flags is a way to show reverence and honor for each flag’s significance. It is a small but meaningful gesture that reflects the values and traditions of the United States.

Memorial Day Protocol

Memorial Day is a solemn occasion to honor and remember the men and women who have made the ultimate sacrifice while serving in the United States Armed Forces. As part of the commemorative traditions, there are specific protocols to follow when raising and lowering the flag on this important day.

To begin, the flag should be raised briskly to the top of the flagpole at dawn. This signifies the resilience and strength of the nation, as well as the hope and gratitude for the freedoms that have been secured through the sacrifices of the fallen heroes.

However, on Memorial Day, the flag is then immediately lowered to half-staff until noon. This act of lowering the flag is a symbol of mourning and remembrance for those who have given their lives in service to the country. It is a solemn gesture that reflects the nation’s collective grief and gratitude.

At noon, the flag is raised back to full-staff until sunset. This transition from half-staff to full-staff represents the resilience and determination of the nation to carry on the legacy of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. It is a reminder that their memory lives on and that their sacrifice will never be forgotten.

By following these protocols on Memorial Day, we pay tribute to the brave men and women who have selflessly served our country. It is a way to honor their memory and express our gratitude for their sacrifice.

Folding and Storing the Flag

Folding and storing the flag is an important part of flag etiquette. After it has been lowered, the flag should be folded properly to ensure it is handled with respect and care. The folding process involves a series of precise folds that result in a triangular shape, symbolizing the hat worn by Revolutionary War soldiers.

Once folded, the flag should be stored in a clean and dry place, preferably in a flag case or display box. This helps to protect the flag from damage and preserve its integrity. Properly folding and storing the flag ensures that it can be proudly displayed for years to come.


In conclusion, raising and lowering the US flag is a significant and symbolic act that should be carried out with utmost respect and care. Throughout this article, we have discussed various aspects of flag etiquette, including the proper procedures for raising and lowering the flag, displaying multiple flags, and observing protocols for half-staff and taps. We have also explored the importance of folding and storing the flag correctly to preserve its integrity.

It is crucial to recap the key points covered in this article. First and foremost, before any flag ceremony, it is essential to familiarize oneself with the proper protocols and guidelines. This ensures that the flag is handled with the respect it deserves and that the ceremony is conducted in a dignified manner.

We have learned that when raising the flag, it should be done briskly and with reverence. The flag should be hoisted to the peak of the flagpole, symbolizing the strength and unity of the nation. Similarly, when lowering the flag, it should be done slowly and ceremoniously, paying tribute to the sacrifices made by those who have served and protected our country.

Displaying the flag correctly is another crucial aspect of flag etiquette. Whether it is flying the flag at half-staff to honor fallen heroes or displaying multiple flags, it is important to follow the proper protocols to show respect and honor.

In addition, we have discussed the significance of folding and storing the flag properly. By following the precise folding techniques, we ensure that the flag is handled with care and preserved for future generations. Storing the flag in a clean and dry place, such as a flag case or display box, helps protect it from damage and maintains its integrity.

Finally, we would like to encourage Scouts and individuals alike to actively participate in flag ceremonies. By doing so, we honor the flag and the principles it represents, fostering a sense of patriotism and respect for our nation.

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Why Ceremonies Are an Important Part of Scouting

Scouts and individuals alike should actively participate in flag ceremonies. By doing so, we honor the flag and the principles it represents, fostering a sense of patriotism and respect for our nation

Frequently Asked Questions about Raising and Lowering the US Flag

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13 responses to “Raising and Lowering the US Flag”

  1. tony Avatar

    I’ve stepped up my game in my area trying to make sure local businesses and whatnot start honoring our flag, by calling them and asking them politely to remove and restore the flag they are flying, everyone has been completely willing to do so. Semper fi, America thanks you.

    1. Parker D. Nunn Avatar
      Parker D. Nunn

      Thank you for this information. I’m in boy scouts as a Tenderfoot and this is one of the three requirements I have left. Praise America!

  2.  Avatar

    this helped me understand the way our flag should be displayed

  3. Martha Avatar

    When lowering, should I remove the top (blue of flag) snap before the lower, or doesn’t it matter which is removed first? Thank you.

  4. Charles june Avatar
    Charles june

    Is there a proper way to take down the flag? Does it need to be folded while being taken down ? Or can it be carried inside and then folded ? What if only one person is taking the flag down ? Is he expected to fold it at the pole ?

  5. E. Nelson Avatar
    E. Nelson

    Keep in mind the words etiquette and respect. I lower my 3″ x 5″ flag myself. It goes over my shoulder so as not to touch the ground. No disrespect intended. I take it in the house to fold in a tri-corner fold. If someone is there we fold it together. If not, I place it on the table and fold it alone.

  6. James Johnstone Avatar
    James Johnstone

    IF you are Honorably discharged you may salute the our flag with the standard hand salute at any time you so desire.

  7. Bruce Wakeman Avatar
    Bruce Wakeman

    A homosexual flag should not be raised in any setting that a US flag associated. Homosexuality defiles and corrupts nations and their families. Our national flag flies to show we honor GOD and the God-given precepts that make nations strong in righteousness.

    1. Jennifer Avatar

      Please shut up.
      That whole “under god” thing was an after thought.

  8. Steve Avatar

    Order of flags at a yacht club. Is it American flag first up and last to take down? We have club burgees on the the nautical flagpole and other burgees on the ground. Some are saying American flag is first to be taken down.

    1. Guyle Langlois Avatar
      Guyle Langlois

      First up last down

  9. Bill Springston Avatar
    Bill Springston

    How does one person Post, Retire and Store the flag? I know how to fold the flag but find it a
    very difficult task to accomplish being only one person.

  10. richard grinavic Avatar
    richard grinavic

    thankyou all, this brought back a a lot of good memories from my scouting days im, 75 yrs young . and a us marine. please teach many people as you can on proper protical on us flags.

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