Order of Precedence for Flag Display
The order of precedence for flags is 1) National, 2) State, 3) Military (in order of creation date), and 4) Other.
According to the Military District of Washington, Ceremonies and Special Events Office, Army Regulation #840-10 mandates that state flags should be displayed according to the date that each state was admitted to the union.
According to the Department of Defense Directive 1005.8, the prescribed precedence of military flags is determined by service birthdays. The appropriate order is given below:
Army Birthday – 14 June 1775
Marine Corps Birthday – 10 November 1775
Navy Birthday – 13 Oct 1775 (Abolished Feb 1781 – Reinstated 7 Sep 1781)
Air Force Birthday – 18 September 1947
*Coast Guard Birthday – 4 August 1790
*According to the Institute of Heraldry, and in keeping with the order in which troops are listed in Department of Defense Directive 1005.8, during peacetime the Coast Guard falls under the Department of Homeland Security. If, during wartime, the Coast Guard is called into service under the control of the Department of Defense, then the Coast Guard flag would come before the Air Force flag in order of precedence.
The Merchant Marine, Vietnam Veterans, and POW/MIA flags can be displayed following the military flags. There is some latitude in the order of display regarding these three flags. Our government has not officially recognized the Merchant Marines as being a branch of the military (its members are often not given veteran’s status), but we feel it is appropriate to honor them as a military branch and thus have placed their flag at the end of the military branches.
The American Legion recognizes the Merchant Marines for membership, depending on when and where they served.
The Vietnam Veterans and POW/MIA flags could be reversed in their order if so desired. We felt it appropriate to place the flag for the living veterans (who are here to see the honor so accorded them) before the flag for those not presently in our midst. You can use your discretion here.