National Cemetery Administration
Cemetery Components - Assembly Area (Flag Location)
The Assembly Area with the U.S. flag as its key focus is an outdoor open plaza space developed for people to gather on patriotic holidays and other special events. The assembly area itself, which is the area designed to accommodate the audience, should be turf and not paved. The area designed to accommodate speakers and other dignitaries may be paved. The Assembly Area terrain and landscaping materials define the space. The shape is defined with turf, paving or a texture to create a space comfortable for public gatherings. The Assembly Area is located in the master plan to take advantage of views on site and off site.
Definition of the immediate surroundings will establish a distinct open space for assemblies and ceremonies and be an attractive year-round feature. The space for assembly can serve multiple uses and should not consume land area that is needed for interments. The Assembly Area design does not include permanent seating.
The U.S. flag is the key focal point for the Assembly Area. The flag may be designed tangent to the Assembly Area and positioned in a key visible spot. The Assembly Area may accommodate approximately 200-250 persons. This can also include an overflow area to the sides of the Assembly Area.
The Assembly Area may also incorporate an architectural or a landscape feature that functions as a platform or a backdrop for speakers. The area must accommodate enough portable seating for 20 dignitaries. Optional - Note that an area adjacent to the speakers’ platform may permit portable seating for a 40-piece band.
The U.S. flag is the single most important feature within the cemetery boundaries. The flag is the focus of great symbolism for veterans and their survivors. The flagpole and its surrounding area should have its own individual identity, and be both complementary and harmonious with the natural surroundings. Use quality, durable, and low-maintenance building materials such as stone, brick or concrete. Avoid locating the flagpole with other flags or in conjunction with an operational function, such as the Administration Building, where the flag becomes an adornment of the building.
The U.S. flagpole in the Assembly Area (aluminum or stainless steel) with internal halyard shall be tall enough to be visible from major adjacent roadways, if practical. Provide ample and unobtrusive flag lighting. Use above ground fixtures only. Do not use in-ground fixtures. If flown 24 hours a day, the flag must be illuminated after dark. During interment services, the flag is lowered to half-staff. The flag should remain visible to the maximum extent possible even when lowered to half-staff. The flagpole shall meet FAA regulations for height and flight safety requirements. Cemetery personnel must be able to access the flagpole to raise and lower the flag for services. The State Flag is typically located with a secondary U.S. Flag in front of the Administration Building. A shorter flagpole (15 to 30 feet) in another location may display the POW/MIA flag. This is frequently located along the Memorial Walk.
Provide adequate electrical service to meet ceremonial and maintenance needs in the Assembly Area. Electrical junction J-boxes should be out of sight and blend into their surroundings. Provide access to water to clean the assembly area paving. Parking for special events and programs is accommodated on roadways and sometimes on the turf in undeveloped interment areas.
As landforms vary, so will site layouts.
The cost to build an Assembly Area is approximately $75,000 including flagpoles, walls, speaker platform, turfed audience seating area per project including the site work.