We recently received this question on our Facebook page:
This is a tricky one, Kelly! If you follow the letter of the law, there are actually very strict rules and regulations on how you can display a flag. Better Homes & Gardens lays out the following:
- Never use the flag for apparel, bedding, or drapery.
- The flag must always fall free and must never be festooned, drawn back or up, or in folds.
- Never use the flag as a covering for a ceiling.
- No mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing can be placed on the flag or any part of the flag.
- If you have a 48-star flag or another historic U.S. flag, you may display it with pride. The 50-star flag is the official flag of the U.S. as designated by President Eisenhower in 1959. There are many historic U.S. flags and, according to tradition (the Flag Code does not address this issue), they may be displayed as long as they are in good condition (unfrayed, unstained, unsoiled, without rips, tears, or holes). Historic U.S. flags should be treated with the same respect and rituals as the official flag.
- You can place a symbolic finial on your flagstaff. Finials for flagstaffs are not mentioned in the Flag Code but, by implication, they are acceptable. The President, the Vice President, and many federal agencies use an eagle finial.
- An indoor flag may have a fringe (a fringe on an outdoor flag would deteriorate too quickly). The Army has used a fringed flag since 1895.
- For other patriotic decoration, bunting of blue, white, and red (always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below), should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping in front of a platform, and decorating general interior or exterior spaces.
We would suggest putting the flags in frames that are made specifically for that purpose (like this one), and creating a display with the flag as the centerpiece. Other memorabilia from your loved one’s life, heirloom candlesticks, pictures – they can all tie in to make a moment that is unique to you and your family.
That being said, here are excellent flag displays that I’ve seen recently:
Addendum: Proper etiquette for flying your flag on Memorial Day:
Note that the flag should be fully raised before it is lowered to half staff til noon.
(Likewise during mourning it should be raised to full staff at sunset before lowering.)
Wall mounted flag brackets either have two set of rings or a side adjustable set screw. This allows display of the flag perpendicular (90 degrees) to the wall until noon and resumption of the normal position (45 degrees) after noon. (A wall mounted flag is always at the top if its staff.)