The Secretary of State is required by law to present a 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
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, §1-202(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.
The Maryland flag was adopted as the State flag by an act of the General Assembly in 1904 (State Government Article, §13-201).
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.
The diagonal band in each Calvert quadrant of the Maryland flag should be centered at the corners.
The red and yellow colors in the Maryland flag should conform to the following Pantone Marking System colors:
The Maryland flag should be folded and stored in a way to preserve it from damage.
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.
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.
The Maryland flag should be accorded the same respect as the U.S. flag.
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).
The Maryland flag should not be allowed to touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
The Maryland flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
No person shall, in any manner, for exhibition or display:
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).
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.
A lapel pin bearing a replica of the Maryland flag should be worn only on the left lapel near the heart.
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.
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):
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).
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).
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)
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.
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)
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)
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)
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)
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)
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.
The Maryland flag should always be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously.
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).
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).
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.
16 Francis St. Annapolis, MD 21401 ~ Phone Number: 410-974-5521 ~ FAX Number: 410-974-5190
Office Hours: 8:30 - 4:30 ~~~ Certification Hours: 8:30 - 4:00