FLAGS AT THE UNITED STATES CAPITOL
No record has been found for the earliest date the flag was flown over the east and west fronts of the Capitol. Early engravings and lithographs in the office of the Architect of the Capitol show flags flying on either side of the original low dome above the corridors connecting the areas now known as Statuary Hall and the Old Senate Chamber.
After the addition of the new House and Senate wings in the 1850s, even before the great dome was completed in 1863, photographs of the period show flags flying over each new wing and the central east and west fronts.
The custom of flying the flags 24 hours a day over the east and west fronts was begun during World War I. This was done in response to requests received from all over the country urging that the flag of the United States be flown continuously over the public buildings in Washington, DC.
The east and west front flags, which are 8 x 12 feet, are replaced by new ones when they become worn and unfit for further use. Prior to machine-made flags, individuals were hired by the Congress to handsew these flags.
Presidential proclamations and laws authorize the display of the flag 24 hours a day at the following places:
Fort McHenry National Monument and Historic Shrine, Baltimore, Maryland (Presidential Proclamation No. 2795, July 2, 1948).
Flag House Square, Albemarle and Pratt Streets, Baltimore Maryland (Public Law 83319, approved March 26, 1954).
United States Marine Corp Memorial (Iwo Jima), Arlington, Virginia (Presidential Proclamation No. 3418, June 12, 1961).
On the Green of the Town of Lexington, Massachusetts (Public Law 89335, approved November 8, 1965).
The White House, Washington, DC. (Presidential Proclamation No. 4000, September 4, 1970).
Washington Monument, Washington, DC. (Presidential Proclamation No. 4064, July 6, 1971, effective July 4, 1971). Fifty flags of the United States are displayed at the Washington Monument continuously.
United States Customs Ports of Entry which are continually open (Presidential Proclamation No. 4131, May 5, 1972).
Grounds of the National Memorial Arch in Valley Forge State Park, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania (Public Law 9453, approved July 4, 1975).
Many other places fly the flag at night as a patriotic gesture by custom.
HOW TO OBTAIN A FLAG FLOWN OVER THE CAPITOL
Constituents may arrange to purchase flags that have been flown over the Capitol by getting in touch with their Senators or Representative. A certificate signed by the Architect of the Capitol accompanies each flag. Flags are available for purchase in sizes of 3' x 5' or 5' x 8' in fabrics of cotton and nylon.
Last Updated: 16-Feb-2010