In Which Order Should You Display Your Military Flags?

Jane Cody
Blog image on the order to display flags

Whether you’re flying flags to honor a loved one, celebrate our troops, or anything in between, you must follow the flag codes. When that comes to military flags, there’s an order in which you must display your flags. Not following this order could get you in trouble, but it’s also disrespectful to the people you’re supposed to be honoring. Learn the order and be sure to follow it the next time you’re honoring the soldiers or throwing any kind of event with military flags.

The Order

There are multiple branches of the Armed Forces in the United States, each with a different flag. On many occasions, you may need to fly all the flags at once, but you must fly them in a specific order:

  • The US national flag
  • US Army flag
  • US Marine Corps flag
  • US Navy flag
  • US Air Force flag
  • US Space Force flag
  • US Coast Guard flag*

*Position changes depending on whether or not we are at war.

It’s important to note that in wartime, the Coast Guard serves as a part of the Navy. When that happens, the Coast Guard flag moves up right behind the Navy flag.

Why Is It This Way?

Many people may wonder why we fly military flags in this order. The standard rule is that they are displayed according to each military branch’s founding date. Although this is generally true, there are some exceptions, most notably the order of the Navy and the Marine Corps flags. The Navy was founded about a month before the Marine Corps, which is itself under the Navy’s authority. However, throughout history, the Marine Corps staunchly defended its original date as November 10, 1775. In contrast, the Navy cited several dates before settling on October 10, 1775. As a result, the Marine Corps flag comes first.

The other exception is the Coast Guard flag. In this case, the position changes depending on whether we are at peace or war. While we are at war, the Coast Guard operates under the Department of Defense, so its flag is displayed after the Navy’s. During peacetime, the Coast Guard is instead a part of the Department of Homeland Security. While it’s not an active defender, it has been before, so it still flies with the rest of the flags, but in the last position.

Other Flag Codes

If you’re also flying a state flag or POW/MIA flag, they will go between the National and Army flags. The state flag can fly underneath the national flag, but it must be at least one size smaller. The same applies to the POW/MIA flag when flown on the same flagpole. You can also fly other countries’ flags. For example, you’ll likely see their flags in a parade celebrating different groups, like Italian Americans or Mexican Americans. When flying other countries’ flags, you must fly them at the same height as the National flag to show proper respect.

Knowing the order in which you should display your military flags will simultaneously help you honor the soldiers and the flags. However, you will still need to get the flags after knowing the order. Depending on the event you’re throwing, you may need some high-quality outdoor military flags. If that’s the case, look no further than Flags USA. We make all our flags right here in America, so be sure to come to us for all your flag needs!

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