Respectful etiquette for placing American flags at gravesites

Recently there has been a well-deserved increase in the recognition of those who serve or have served in the Armed Forces. Well-meaning individuals and maybe even veteran groups have taken to erecting American flags at the gravesite of deceased service members. Many times these flags are left year-round until they deteriorate or are blown away by the wind.

There is a prescribed etiquette for the placement of flags at the gravesite of deceased veterans. This etiquette derives from the same code prescribed by the Veterans Administration in our National Veteran Cemeteries although it is more lenient. I am a veteran, as was my father, my brother and numerous members of my extended family. I feel qualified to offer these points concerning this flag etiquette.

The flag is to be placed on veteran’s graves only on Memorial Day, Armed Forces Day, Veterans Day, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day or any day that is nationally accepted for recognizing members of the Armed Forces. It should be removed promptly after the passing of the day for which it was erected.

The size of the flag should be small, about 12” X 18” and mounted on a short staff, tall enough only to keep the flag off the ground. This etiquette adds dignity to the gravesite of the veteran.

Jerry R. McDuffie


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