Just like the American flag, United States military flags come with specific rules to follow when you display them. Proper flag etiquette is necessary for flying your flags with dignity and respect. Displaying military flags is an honorable way to show support for the United States Armed Forces. When you fly your armed forces flag, make sure you’re giving it the respect it deserves with this quick guide to displaying a U.S. military flag properly.
Order is the biggest rule of U.S. military flag etiquette. When displaying more than one military flag, it’s important to fly each one in the correct order. From left to right, this flag order follows the date of creation for each military branch. As the oldest United States military branch, the Army flag goes first. Next is the Marine Corps flag, followed by the Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard.
Military-savvy readers will know that the Coast Guard formed over 150 years before the Air Force and, therefore, doesn’t follow the flag order’s date-of-creation rule. This is because, unlike the other military branches, the Coast Guard reports to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security rather than the Department of Defense during peacetime.
This changes during times of war, when the Coast Guard transitions to the Department of Defense. When this happens, the flag order changes as well. As a result, the Coast Guard flag comes after the Navy flag and before the Air Force flag during wartime.
The United States unveiled the official Space Force flag in 2020, adding a new military flag to the order. Official Air Force documentation declares that the Space Force flag should follow the date-of-origin rule and fly in the furthest right position, after the Coast Guard flag. However, official proceedings and national events have displayed the flags in a slightly different order, with the Space Force flag flying between the Air Force and Coast Guard flags.
What happens when you fly U.S. military flags with other types of flags? As always, the American flag should be at the first or leftmost position in any flag order. If you’re flying a state flag, that should be in the second position. The flags of the different U.S. military branches would be next, followed by the POW/MIA flag, if you fly one.
At Flags USA, we know that displaying your flag is a serious and respectful action. That’s why we sell high-quality, long-lasting, 100-percent USA-made flags and flagpoles. Shop our outdoor military flags today, and use this quick guide for displaying a U.S. military flag to show your support for the United States Armed Forces.