Small Flag Etiquette

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Small American flags provide a patriotic feeling

Many holidays lend themselves to the use of flags as decorations. Small flags bring a patriotic tone to the table, desk or lawn where they are displayed. Politicians and other dignitaries often fly small flags from their vehicles. From lapel pin flags to fabric flags on poles in floral arrangements, Americans celebrate with small flags.


The Law

Guidelines for the design and display of American flags come from 4 USC Title 4, the collection of laws approved by Congress and the President regarding the flag. While the code does not attempt to describe every single way in which the flag may be used, it provides the principles to allow individuals to make informed choices as to flag display.


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The U.S. flag can be constructed in nearly any size so long as it fits the proportions mandated in Title 4. The length, or fly, of the flag must measure 1.9 times the width, or hoist. Thus a flag measuring 3 inches in width should be 5.7 inches in length. The flag should be mounted on a pole long enough to prevent any part of the flag from touching the surface below it.



Small flags merit the same respect as large flags. Protect a flag from touching the ground or any surface below the flag. Treat it with respect, as a symbol of the United States. In a multi-flag display, position the U.S. flag so others are not above it. Do not place the flag in a position to be spattered or soiled.



Fabric or plastic provide the most common material for small flags. Fabric flags may be sewn together of pieces of the appropriately colored fabric or printed on a solid white fabric. The flags attach to flag poles with staples through the flag and into the pole or a channel formed in the flag to allow the pole to pass through.



Flags should be dry cleaned rather than washed. Like their larger outdoor counterparts, small flags should be replaced when signs of wear appear. Dispose of the flag with appropriate dignity. Many veterans' organizations or Boy Scout troops collect worn flags and conduct ceremonial disposal events.


Very small flags may be worn as lapel pins on the left side of the chest over the heart. Federal code prohibits the wearing of a flag patch as part of a garment except in the case of certain excepted uniforms. Under no circumstances should a flag be in a position to be sat on or leaned against.


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