John P. McDonough, Secretary of State    

Maryland Flag Protocol


The Secretary of State is required by law to present a [photograph of Maryland and U.S. State flag to the family of any firefighter or police officer, or sworn member of the Office of State Fire Marshal who is killed in the line of duty. The flag is to be presented to the family of the deceased firefighter or police officer by the State senator of the legislative district in which the deceased resided.

Additionally, the Secretary of State is customarily entrusted with the role of educating the public as to the history and the protocol and appropriate display of the Maryland State flag individually and as it is flown with other flags.

Photograph by Tom Darden, State of Maryland

Statutory Authority: Public Safety Article, ยง1-202(d) Annotated Code of Maryland

Note
: The following protocol provides guidelines for the proper display of the Maryland flag. Those provisions followed by a reference to the Annotated Code of Maryland are based on statutes, and violations of them may carry legal penalties.


Description and Care of Flag
1.01 The Maryland flag was adopted as the State flag by an act of the General Assembly in 1904 (State Government Article, §13-201).
1.02

The Maryland flag is divided into four quarters. The first and fourth quarters consist of six vertical bars alternately yellow (representing gold) and black with a diagonal band on which the colors are reversed. The yellow and black quarters represent the family arms of the first proprietor of Maryland, George Calvert, first Lord Baltimore. The second and third quarters consist of a quartered field of red and white (representing silver) bearing a Greek cross with arms terminating in trefoils. The colors in the second and third quarters alternate, with red on the white ground and white on the red. The red and white quarters display the arms of Lord Baltimore's maternal family, the Crosslands.

1.03 The diagonal band in each Calvert quadrant of the Maryland flag should be centered at the corners.
1.04 The red and yellow colors in the Maryland flag should conform to the following Pantone Marking System colors:
  • red on coated stock-PMS 201
  • red on uncoated stock-PMS 193
  • yellow on coated stock-PMS 124
  • yellow on uncoated stock-PMS 124
1.05 The Maryland flag should be folded and stored in a way to preserve it from damage.
1.06

When the condition of the Maryland flag is such that it is no longer fit for display, it should be disposed of in the same manner as the U.S. flag, preferably by burning, and with the same dignity as is accorded the disposal of the U.S. flag.

1.07

The Maryland flag in its present form was not flown until after the Civil War. When a Maryland banner is desired for pageants, reenactments, commemorations, and other historical occasions, it may consist of the yellow and black Calvert colors displayed as in the first quarter of the Maryland flag. Two pennants, one black and the other yellow, flown on separate staffs may also be appropriately used for historical commemorations and events.

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Proper Display
2.01 The Maryland flag should always be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously.
2.02 The Maryland flag shall be flown with the black stripe on the diagonal band of the first quarter at the top of the flagstaff, as shown in Figure 1 (State Government Article, §13-204). [Figure
2.03 Only a gold cross bottony may be used as an ornament on the top of a flagstaff that carries the Maryland flag (State Government Article, §13-203). [Cross Bottony]
2.04 The Maryland flag should be displayed on state holidays and on historic and special occasions.
2.05

Except as provided in §4.02, the Maryland flag should not be displayed outdoors earlier than sunrise nor later than sunset. When a patriotic effect is desired, however, the Maryland flag may be displayed 24 hours a day if directly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

2.06 Except as provided in §4.02, the Maryland flag should not be displayed on days when the weather is inclement, unless an all-weather flag is displayed. An all-weather flag is made from colorfast material.
2.07 The Maryland flag should be displayed on or near the main administration building of every state facility.
2.08 The Maryland flag should be dipped as a mark of honor to the U.S. flag, or to the national anthem if the U.S. flag is not being displayed. When the Maryland flag is dipped, care must be taken that it does not touch the ground or floor.
2.09 The Maryland flag may be dipped as a matter of courtesy to the flag of another nation, or to its national anthem if the flag is not being displayed.
2.10 The Maryland flag should not be carried flat or horizontally but always aloft and free, as it is carried in a parade.
2.11 When the Maryland flag is displayed on a float in a parade, the flag should always be attached securely to a staff so it can fly freely.
2.12 The Maryland flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of any vehicle, or on any railroad train, boat, or airplane.
2.13 The Maryland flag should never be used to cover a platform or speaker's desk, or as a drape for the front of a speaker's platform. Bunting of yellow and black (or red and white) may be used.
2.14 When displayed over the middle of a street, the Maryland flag should be suspended with the first and third quarters at the top, and with the first quarter to the flag's own right (the observer's left). When the Maryland flag and the U.S. flag are displayed together over the middle of a street, both flags should be suspended vertically and at the same level. The Maryland flag should be approximately the same size as, but never larger than, the U.S. flag. The U.S. flag should have the union to the north in an east and west street, or to the east in a north and south street. The Maryland flag should be suspended as described above, with the first quarter to the north in an east and west street, or to the east in a north and south street. (Fig. 2) [Figure
6]
2.15

When the Maryland flag is displayed in any manner other than by being flown from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out. When the Maryland flag is displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the first quarter should be at the top and to the flag's own right (the observer's left). When the U.S. flag and Maryland flag are displayed together against a wall, the U.S. flag should have the position of honor on the flag's own right (the observer's left), with the union uppermost and to the flag's own right (the observer's left). The Maryland flag should be displayed as described above, with the first quarter uppermost and to the flag's own right (the observer's left).

When displayed with the U.S. flag against a wall, the Maryland flag should be approximately the same size as, but never larger than, the U.S. flag, and it should be suspended at the same height as, but never higher than, the U.S. flag. (Fig. 3)

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[Figure
6]
Desecration
3.01 The Maryland flag should be accorded the same respect as the U.S. flag
3.02 No person shall publicly mutilate, deface, defile, defy, trample upon, or by word or act cast contempt upon the Maryland flag (Criminal Law Article, §10-704).
3.03 The Maryland flag should not be allowed to touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise
3.04 The Maryland flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
3.05 No person shall, in any manner, for exhibition or display:
  • Place or cause to be placed any word, figure, mark, picture, design, drawing or advertisement of any nature upon any flag . . . authorized by any law of the United States or of this State; or

  • Expose to public view any such flag . . . upon which shall have been printed, painted or otherwise produced, or to which shall have been attached, appended, affixed or annexed any such word, figure, mark, picture, design, drawing or advertisement; or

  • Expose to public view for sale, manufacture, or otherwise, or to sell, give or have in possession for sale, for gift or for use for any purpose, any substance, being an article of merchandise, or receptacle, or thing for holding or carrying merchandise, upon or to which shall have been produced or attached any such flag . . . in order to advertise, call attention to, decorate, mark or distinguish such article or substance. (Criminal Law Article, §10-703).

3.06

The prohibition against use of the Maryland flag outlined in 3.05 shall not apply to any act permitted by the statutes of the United States (or of this State), or by the United States Army and Navy regulations, nor shall it apply to any printed or written document or production, stationery, ornament, pictures, apparel or jewelry whereon shall be depicted said flag. . . with no design or words thereon and disconnected with any advertisement (Criminal Law Article, §10-702).

3.07 The Maryland flag itself should not be made into or be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery, nor should the Maryland flag be cut, torn, or otherwise disfigured to create wearing apparel, a costume, or athletic uniform.
3.09 A lapel pin bearing a replica of the Maryland flag should be worn only on the left lapel near the heart.
3.10 Under the auspices of a state-sponsored program, design elements from the Maryland flag may be used in graphics, displays, or designs intended to promote Maryland and to encourage an appreciation for the State and its people.

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Display with Other Flags
4.01

[Figure 4A &
4B]When the Maryland flag is displayed within the State of Maryland, it should occupy the position of honor (to the flag's own right, or the observer's left) after the U.S. flag and the flag of any other nation, and before the flags of other states, Maryland counties and Baltimore City, municipalities, and public or private organizations. The positions of honor in a display of flags are (see Figs. 4a and 4b):

  • U.S. flag in the position of highest honor (the observer's extreme left or the highest point in a grouping of flags)
  • the flag or flags of other nations ranked in alphabetical order
  • the Maryland flag
  • the flags of other states, ranked in an order determined by the respective state's date of ratification of the U.S. Constitution or date of admission to the Union. In national events or ceremonies honoring the nation or the U.S. flag, the Maryland flag may occupy the seventh position among the flags of the states in recognition of its rank as the seventh state to ratify the U.S. Constitution.

  • the flags of Maryland counties (with Baltimore City being ranked as a county for the purposes of this protocol), with the host county in the position of honor to the left (the observer's right) of the Maryland flag, followed by the other county flags ranked in an order determined by the a county's date of creation.

  • the flags of Maryland municipalities, and the flags or pennants of public and private agencies, institutions, and societies ranked in an order determined at the discretion of the organizers or sponsors of the particular event.
4.02

The U.S. flag and the Maryland flag shall be flown from the State House at Annapolis continuously during sessions of the General Assembly. When the General Assembly is not in session, the U.S. flag and the Maryland flag shall be flown continuously from the State House on each day that the governor designates as a public occasion, and on any other day, weather permitting, between sunrise and sunset (State Government Article, §13-204).

4.03

When the U.S. flag and Maryland flag are flown from a single flagstaff, the U. S. flag should be displayed from the peak position with the Maryland flag immediately below it. The Maryland flag should be approximately the same size as, but never larger than, the U.S. flag. (Fig. 5).

[Figure
6]
4.04

When the Maryland flag and the U.S. flag are displayed on separate flagpoles, the flagpoles should be of equal height and the Maryland flag should be approximately the same size as, but never larger than, the U.S. flag. The U.S. flag should be flown from the position of honor on the flag's own right, or from the flagpole on the left as normally viewed by the observer. The Maryland flag should be flown from the second position of honor, or from the flagpole on the right as normally viewed by the observer. (Fig. 6)

[Figure
6]
4.05

When a Maryland facility is located in another state, the flag of the host state may be flown on an adjacent staff of equal height. The Maryland flag and the flag of the host state should be of approximately the same size, and the Maryland flag should be flown in the position of honor (to the flag's own right, or to the observer's left) after the U.S. flag. When the Maryland flag is flown with the U.S. flag and the flag of another state at such a facility, the proper order from the observer's left is the U.S. flag, the Maryland flag, and the flag of the host state.

4.06

The U. S. flag displayed from a staff either on a speaker's platform or at floor level in a public auditorium should occupy the position of honor to the speaker's right as the speaker faces the audience. The Maryland flag displayed from a staff either on a speaker's platform or on the main floor of a public auditorium should be placed in the second position of honor to the left (the observer's right) of the U.S. flag. Both the U.S. and the Maryland flags may be to the speaker's right (the observer's left), or the Maryland flag (but not the U.S. flag) may be to the speaker's left (observer's right). (Fig. 7)

[Figure
6]
4.07

When the Maryland flag and U.S. flag are displayed from separate staffs grouped around a central point, the U.S. flag should be at the highest point of the group. The Maryland flag takes the next place of honor (on the observer's extreme left). (Fig. 8)

[Figure
6]
4.08

When displayed with the Maryland flag from crossed staffs, the U.S. flag should be on the flag's own right (the observer's left) and its staff should be in front of the staff of the Maryland flag. (Fig. 9)

[Figure
6]
4.09

When carried in a procession with the Maryland flag and other flags, the U.S. flag should be on the marching right (the observer's left) with the Maryland flag taking the next position of honor (to the observer's right). The U.S. flag can also be carried in front of and at the center of a line of flags in a procession, in which case the Maryland flag should take the next position of honor on the marching right (the observer's left) of the line. (Fig. 10)

[Figure
6]
4.10

When the U.S. and Maryland flags are flown from a cross staff, the U.S. flag flies from the peak and the Maryland flag occupies the position on the right end of the cross staff (the observer's left). (Fig. 11)

[Figure
6]
4.11

When the U.S. and Maryland flags are flown from a cross staff with a gaff, the U.S. flag flies at the gaff and the Maryland flag occupies the position on the right end of the cross staff (the observer's left). If county, city, or private flags are also flown, the next position of honor is the left end of the cross staff (the observer's right) followed by the peak of the staff.

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Use During Period of Mourning
5.01 The Maryland flag should be flown at half-staff whenever the U.S. flag is so flown. Half-staff means lowering the flag to one-half the distance between the top and the bottom of the staff. When flown at half-staff, the Maryland flag should be hoisted briskly to the peak for an instant and then lowered slowly to half staff. Before being lowered for the day, the Maryland flag should again be raised to the peak
5.02 When the U.S. flag and the Maryland flag are flown together at half staff, whether from adjacent staffs or from a single staff with two halyards, the U.S. flag is raised first and lowered last. When flown from a single staff with one halyard, the Maryland flag is secured to the halyard immediately below the U.S. flag and accompanies it as the U.S. flag is raised to the peak and lowered to half staff. (Figs. a and b) [Figure
6]
5.03

By order of the Governor or his authorized representative, the Maryland flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of present or former government officials or state and national leaders, and on other occasions as the Governor or his authorized representative directs. The Maryland flag shall remain at half-staff for the period prescribed by the Governor or his authorized representative.

5.04 The Maryland flag should be flown at half-staff when so ordered by county and municipal government officials on all property under their jurisdiction.
5.05 On Memorial Day, the U.S. flag and Maryland flag are displayed at half-staff until noon only; then they are hoisted to the top of the staff.
5.06

The Maryland flag may be used to cover the coffin of a state police officer killed in the line of duty, or any other state official or public servant whose career was substantially devoted to public service in the state. When the Maryland flag is used to cover a casket, it should be placed so that the first quarter is at the head and over the left shoulder. The Maryland flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground. (Fig. 13)

[Figure
6]
5.07

During periods of official mourning, the Maryland flag may be draped with crepe when it is not possible to display the flag at half-staff. When so ordered by the Governor or his authorized representative, the staff of the flag shall display black crepe attached to the staff below the cross bottony. The crepe shall be tied into a bow with the ends forming streamers of equal length. (Fig. 14)

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[Figure
6]
Use of the U.S. Ensign and Maryland Flag on Recreational Boats
Note: This section does not cover the use of yacht club burgees, owner's private signals, U.S. Power Squadron flags, U.S.C.G. Auxiliary flags, foreign flags, or social and courtesy flags. Rules for these are well established and may be found in existing literature. The U.S. Ensign with a canton of 50 stars (as the U.S. flag is called while in nautical use) and the U.S. Yacht Ensign, with a canton of 13 stars, are interchangeable on all types of recreational vessels while in national waters. Because the preferred location for the U.S. Power Squadron flag is also the starboard spreader, it may be flown beneath the Maryland flag.
6.01

The U.S. Ensign and the Maryland flag are normally flown from sunrise to sunset. However, at most yacht clubs "colors are made" at 0800. This timing is proper when in the company of other boats simultaneously making colors. The U.S. Ensign is flown first and lowered last.

6.02 If the Maryland flag is flown on sailing vessels:
  • Sloops, cutters, and schooners
    • While underway - sailing vessels with one mast should fly the U.S. Ensign at the stern staff, or two-thirds of the way up the leech of the mainsail (or at the top of the leech, if gaff-rigged). The Maryland flag should fly at the starboard spreader, or on the forward mast of a schooner.

    • While at anchor - The U.S. Ensign should fly from the stern staff and the Maryland flag from the starboard spreader

  • Yawls and ketches
    • While underway - The U.S. Ensign should fly at the stern staff or at a position two-thirds up the leech of the mizzen sail (or at the peak of the leech of the mizzen sail, if gaff-rigged). The Maryland flag should fly at the starboard spreader ("at the starboard spreader" means the spreader on the most forward mast if more than one and from the most outboard hoist of that spreader).

    • While at anchor - The U.S. Ensign should fly from the stern staff and the Maryland flag from the starboard spreader.
  • 6.03 If the Maryland flag is flown on motorboats:
    • While underway and at anchor - The U.S. Ensign should fly from the stern staff and the Maryland flag may be flown from the forestaff in lieu of a yacht club burgee.
    • Motorboats with auxiliary masts should follow the rules for sailboats.

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