America’s high-flying flag looks great on a balcony, doesn’t it? But while all Americans have a right to fly one, not everyone is familiar with the proper etiquette for flying the red, white, and blue symbol of national pride and patriotism. There are several rules involved, and failure to observe some may get you in trouble with the authorities.
To properly hang a flag from a balcony, ensure that it’s not in contact with any surfaces. It should be hoisted to the top of the pole and hung with the union to your top left. The flag should not be overshadowed by other flags, and should stay illuminated. Make sure the flag is firmly secured, and not pierced in any way.
In the rest of this article, we’ll explore in detail how you can leverage the above tips to fly the American flag from a balcony with pride and respect. Let’s dive right in, shall we?
1. Ensure That the Flag Doesn’t Touch Any Nearby Surfaces
If you’re using a staff to hang the American Flag, ensure that the staff angles away from the balcony. Also, be sure to position it away from nearby vegetation, solid surfaces, or water sources. This way, you’ll keep your flag off floors, water, or shrubbery that may damage it or even get you in trouble with the law.
It’s especially important that the flag doesn’t touch the ground or floor of your balcony. While the former might not be an issue when hanging a flag from the balcony of a high-rise building, the latter often occurs when homeowners don’t get the flag placement right.
According to the Flag Protection Act, leaving the American flag on the floor or ground amounts to flag desecration and is punishable by a one-year prison sentence, fine, or both. Therefore, keeping your flag off nearby surfaces is more than just about extending its longevity; it can also help you avoid potential run-ins with law enforcers.
2. Hoist the Flag to the Top of the Pole
Unless federal, state, or local laws decree that the flag be hung at half-pole at a certain time, you should always hoist the flag to the very peak of the pole.
Typically, the national flag is flown at half-staff when the country is mourning or on Memorial day (only from sunrise to noon), and these are just about the only instances when it wouldn’t be right to hoist the flag to the peak. But even on such occasions, you should first hoist it to the top of the pole for a moment before lowering it back to half-pole and repeat that when taking it down for the day.
3. Position the Union to the Top Left
Whether hanging the flag horizontally or vertically on a balcony wall, the union (AKA the blue part with white stars) should always be positioned at the top left side. And by left, we mean the observer’s left, not the flag’s. In other words, when you’re looking at the flag, the union should be at the top corner of your left-hand side.
If you’re using a staff to hang your flag, the union should be on the top end of the staff.
It’s particularly important to get the positioning of the union right because a flag hung with the union side on the bottom is considered a sign of distress, and you don’t want to be sounding false alarms to the authorities.
4. Don’t Hoist the Flag When It’s Raining
If the weather forecast predicts a rainy day, don’t display the flag unless it’s made of all-weather materials.
If you’re looking to hang your flag all-year-round, purchase one made of non-absorbent nylon such as this heavy-duty American Flag on Amazon. It comes expertly crafted to resist UV and weather damage, with a quadruple-stitched fly end for utmost durability.
5. Keep the Flag Outstretched
When hanging your flag on a pole in your balcony, always ensure that it’s fully outstretched, with no parts folded. If you’re displaying it against one of your balcony walls, hang it such that it sits snugly flat on the wall. It shouldn’t be draped, or any parts of it folded.
6. Hang the American Flag Above/to the Left of Other Flags
If you’re hanging any other flags right next to the national flag on a balcony wall (or any other wall for that matter), always position them below or to the left of the American flag. The flag’s right side (your left when facing the flag) is its position of prominence, so any other organization’s flag should always be hung to the American flag’s left (to your right when facing it).
If you’re using a staff to hang the flags, the staff with the American flag should be in front of those of other flags. And even though it’s generally recommended that you fly the American flag higher than any other flag, it’s acceptable to hang both types at the same height on a wall as long as you place the US flag on the correct side.
While on the subject of displaying the American flag alongside other flags, it’s also worth mentioning that the US flag should always be larger than any other flags displayed alongside it. If the flags have varying sizes, the US flag should, at the very least, be equal to the size of the largest flag. The American flag should never be overshadowed by other flags in any way.
7. Always Keep the Flag Illuminated
There are two ways to do this. You can either stick to only displaying the flag during the day, or install an outdoor light on your balcony to illuminate the flag at night.
If you prefer not to keep your balcony lit overnight, you can always set up a spotlight to illuminate the area around the flag. If you don’t already have a lighting solution for this purpose, consider the cost-effective J.LUMI GSS6005 outdoor spotlights. For just $10, you get an energy-efficient spotlighting solution that’s specially designed to give your landscaping and outdoor flags a naturally vivid color.
8. Never Pierce the Flag With Nails or Pins When Hanging It
Instead, hang your flag by its grommets. If you don’t know where to find these on your flag, check the corners of the side with the union for the metal loops used to hoist the flag from a pole. These are the grommets, and should always be used to hang the flag, whether on a wall or from a pole.
Even when the grommets are damaged, you should never disrespect the American flag by piercing it with push pins or nails when hanging it. You should either repair the grommets or simply retire the flag if it’s too worn out.
9. Hang the Flag Securely
Whether you’re using a staff to hang the flag or are looking to display it against one of your balcony walls, you should make sure that it’s secure enough to never fall off when it gets windy.
With a staff, all you need to do is to make sure it’s firmly secured on your balcony. As for securing your flag on a wall, you can use several push pins or nails placed at regular intervals to evenly distribute the weight of the flag, so it doesn’t sag and get blown off by the wind.
READ ALSO: 8 Best Chairs for a Small Balcony
That does it for today’s discussion. As we’ve seen throughout this post, there are several intricacies involved in hanging a flag from a balcony, and failure to observe some may get you in trouble with the law; leave alone disrespecting our national symbol of pride and patriotism.
Hopefully, these US flag etiquette tips will help you fly the national flag from your balcony with the respect it deserves. Best of luck!