Flag Raising

November 5, 2016

Update: Follow the official proceedings at law.MIT.edu/FlagLife and we will maintain the information on the event blog post (below) to preserve context.

In collaboration with MIT artist and graduate student Laura Serejo Genes, the law.MIT.edu research team is contributing a Blockchain enabled digital dimension to her "Flag Life" civic art project.


Watch this video for more information on the event and check back on this  blockchain aspect of our contribution.  More information on the Flag Life project from MIT artist Laura Genes is copied directly below:

At 4:30pm on Monday, November 7, 2016 ROTC at MIT will lower the American flag flying by the athletics fields. An alternate American flag will be raised in its place. this alternate American flag will fly for the entirety of election day and will be lowered on Wednesday, November 9, 2016. 


please come raise the flag 

a) are (for whatever reason) not voting in the 2016 presidential election
b) were born in America
c) have been granted DACA
d) like the color combination: red, white & blue
e) have one or more passports
f) checked-in at Standing Rock
g) have been detained
h) have never left the country
i) have been tricked to work for free
j) worked for minimum wage
k) like Canada more than Mexico, or vice-versa
l) want to learn Arabic
m) speak Arabic
n) want to do good
o) want to do better
p) have been in more synagogues than churches
q) have a favorite President
r) wish you had more time to yourself
s) have been detained
t) have been subject to additional security screening
u) have never left the country
v) would like the opportunity to kneel during the national anthem
w) believe in rivalry
x) feel surveilled
y) cut corners
z) have better things to do

Participate in an act of arbitrary solidarity before the 2016 Presidential Election.

All participants will have a hand in the ceremony. The entire event will be less than 20 minutes and will start exactly at 4:30pm at the flagpole just behind the MIT football field score board (behind Henry Steinbrenner Stadium, just follow the path past the Z-Center). There will be live music.

Those who wish to participate are encouraged to report to the flagpole by 4:25pm, this Monday, November 17. 

Those who want more information or wish to provide additional support: please contact: lasgenes@mit.edu.

RSVP encouraged, but not by any means required. The flag raising is free and open to the public.

“this project/exhibit has been made possible by funding from the Program in Art, Culture & Technology.”


The following notes and links are provided by law.MIT.edu researchers and volunteers:

For those who are curious about what to expect at the event on Monday, November 7th, 2016, below is an excerpt of rules and ceremony accompanying lowering of the flag of the United States:

TC 3-21.5  

20 January 2012  
Flags and Colors   
Appendix K 

Normally, a flag detail consists of one noncommissioned officer in charge (NCOIC), two halyard pullers, and two to eight flag handlers. The purpose of the flag handlers is to ensure correct folding (unfolding) of the flag and to ensure that the flag does not touch the ground. As a guide, two flag handlers are needed when raising or lowering the storm (small) flag, six handlers for the post (medium) flag, and eight handlers for the garrison (large) flag.

The members of the flag detail are equipped according to local standing operating procedure and or letter of instructions.

The NCOIC inconspicuously gives the necessary commands or directives to ensure proper performance by the flag detail. On windy days, he may assist the flag handlers to secure or fold the flag. In most other situations, it is inappropriate for the NCOIC to touch the flag when it is being folded or unfolded.


1. For occasions when the flag of the United States is raised, lowered, or flown at half-staff, see AR 600-25 and paragraphs K-1 and K-2.

2. When the flag is to be flown at half-staff, it is first hoisted to the top of the flagpole and then lowered to the half-staff position. Before lowering the flag, it is again raised to the top of the flagpole and then lowered (AR 840-10).


Execute the following actions when raising the flag. 

a. The NCOIC forms the detail in a column of twos at Double Interval between files

(Figure K-1, page K-2). He secures the flag from its storage area and positions himself between the files and on line with the last two men. He then marches the detail to the flagpole.

b. The detail is halted in column, facing the flagpole on the downwind side or as appropriate. They are halted so that the flagpole is centered between the halyard pullers. The NCOIC commands POST. On this command, the halyard pullers immediately move to the flagpole and ensure that the halyards are free of the pole. The flag handlers face to the center. The NCOIC then directs UNFOLD THE FLAG. On this directive, the two flag handlers nearest the NCOIC begin to (carefully) unfold the flag lengthwise, passing the freed end to the other handlers. When the two handlers nearest the flagpole have firmly secured the flag, the other handlers move away from the flagpole (as necessary) until the flag is fully extended. The flag is not unfolded widthwise. The flag handlers hold the flag waist high with their forearms horizontal to the ground.

Figure K-1. Flag detail

c. At the appropriate time, the NCOIC directs ATTACH THE FLAG. On this directive, all flag handlers take one side step toward the flagpole. The two handlers nearest the flagpole immediately attach the top of the flag to the halyard. The halyard pullers raise the flag until the bottom of the flag can be attached.

NOTE: When raising the larger flags, the NCOIC may command Ready, STEP while the halyard pullers raise the halyard until the lower portion of the flag is attached.

d. At the first note of the music, the reveille gun is fired and the halyard pullers rapidly raise the flag. The NCOIC salutes. As the flag is raised from the handlers’ hands, they face the flagpole and salute. (Reveille is about 20 seconds in duration.) At the last note of the music, the NCOIC commands Order, ARMS for himself and the flag handlers while the pullers secure the halyards. The NCOIC then positions himself between the halyard pullers, executes an About Face, and commands Ready, FACE. The detail will face in the appropriate direction to depart the flag pole. He then marches the detail from the site.


Execute the following actions when lowering the flag. 

a. The detail is marched and positioned at the flagpole in the same manner as when
raising the flag. On the command POST, the halyard pullers free the halyards, untangle them, ensure that they are free from the pole, and then temporarily resecure them; the flag handlers do not face to the center. The NCOIC then commands Parade, REST.

b. At the cannon shot or at the last note of “Retreat” (if a cannon is not fired), each halyard puller immediately frees the halyards. The NCOIC commands himself and the flag handlers to ATTENTION and Present, ARMS. At the first note of “To the Color,” the flag is lowered slowly and with dignity.

c. The call, “To the Color,” is approximately 40 seconds in duration. As the flag is lowered to within reach, the two flag handlers farthest away from the flag terminate their Salute, move forward rapidly, secure the flag, and move back from the flagpole between the columns.

  (1) As the flag passes each handler, he terminates his Salute and assists in securing the flag. The flag is held palms down, fingers and thumb extended and joined, forearms horizontal. The NCOIC terminates his Salute at the last note of the music.

  (2) Once the flag is detached, it is then folded. (See Figure K-2, page K-4, for correct folding techniques.) After securing the halyard, the handlers assist in the folding.


  When taking steps forward or backward to fold the flag, the members of the detail always step off with the left foot and always bring the trail foot alongside the lead foot as in the Position of Attention.

(a) To fold the flag the NCOIC commands Ready, STEP. All personnel take the appropriate number of steps backward to ensure that the flag is horizontal, wrinkle free, and centered on the flagpole.

(b) The NCOIC then commands Ready, STEP. The flag handlers take the appropriate number of steps toward each other, making the first fold lengthwise. The members on the NCOIC’s right ensure that their edge of the flag is overlapping the left side by about inch, which prevents any red from showing when the folding is complete. The NCOIC ensures that the flag is straight.

(c) The NCOIC then commands Ready, TWO. The members of the column on the NCOIC’s left reach down and secure the fold with the fingers pointing upward and the palms facing away.

(d) The NCOIC then commands Ready, THREE. The members take the appropriate number of steps backward to ensure that the flag is horizontal, wrinkle free, and centered on the flagpole.

(e) Ready, STEP, Ready, TWO, and Ready, THREE are commanded and executed one more time to get the flag completely folded lengthwise.

(f) The flag handlers nearest the NCOIC then fold a 4-inch cuff and begin folding the flag, starting with the corner on the NCOIC’s left. When folding the flag, the handlers are careful to keep the edges straight and to not bend the flag.

(g) After the flag has reached the position of honor (at the head of the right column), the NCOIC marches by the most direct route to a position directly in front of the flag handler and inspects the flag. The NCOIC then receives the flag and carries it held against his chest with his forearms with the point up.

(h) After the flag has been folded and received by the NCOIC, he positions himself between the halyard pullers and faces the storage site. The NCOIC then commands Ready, FACE. The members of the detail make the appropriate Facing movement toward the storage site. The detail is then marched to the storage site.

NOTE: Once the flag has been folded (cocked hat), it is treated as a cased Color and not saluted by persons meeting the flag detail. The flag will be treated with the utmost dignity and respect but not be rendered any sort of honors.

For a recent version of TC 3-21.5 (FM 3-21.5) "Drills and Ceremony", please see: http://www.usarmyband.com/pdf/FM_3_21_5.pdf 

  • Archived version, August, 1968, FM 22-5 Drill and Ceremonies: https://archive.org/details/FM22-51968
  • Unfortunately, though cleared for public release, the official version of this file requires current CAC access credentials).  

Etiquette and History: Flag of the United States of America

US Flag Raising Ceremonies:

US Flag Lowering Ceremonies:

For More Context, See the MIT ROTC Paul Revere Battalion Cadet Handbook!