Archive for the ‘flag display mistakes’ Tag

US Flag: Common Display Mistakes   17 comments

It is not OK to wear the US flag.  Not as a swimsuit, not as a cape, not as a t-shirt.  Not. O. K.

BAD! It is not OK to wear the US flag. Not as a swimsuit, not as a cape, not as a t-shirt.      Not. O. K.

There are rules.  How we should display the US Flag is described clearly in something called the US Flag Code.  There’s a link below; meanwhile, here are my pet peeves.  Far too many citizens are either ignorant or uncaring about how they should display their flag.  Let’s try and set that right, OK?

1. You can’t wear the flag.

Section 8d: The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery.

Section 8j: No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform.

I cringe at the Olympics … no, you shouldn’t wrap yourself in the flag.  It shouldn’t be on your t-shirt.  It shouldn’t be printed on your clothing at all; you can’t wear the flag (there are a few obvious exceptions, such as patches worn on uniforms by our astronauts, military and police.  And Boy Scouts!).

2. You can’t imprint flags on napkins.  You can’t imprint on commercial items … like credit cards.

BAD!  Totally wrong to wipe your mouth on these napkins.

BAD! Totally wrong to wipe your mouth on these napkins.

Section 8i: The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.

It’s really simple: you can’t use the flag to promote your business (which is the advertising part).  And you can’t imprint the flag on something that’s meant to be thrown away, like napkins or boxes.  The flag should be given more respect than that.

3. The flag goes to the right of the speaker on stage.

Section 7k: When used on a speaker’s platform, the flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman’s or speaker’s right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker or to the right of the audience.

BAD! This flag needs to be retired immediately.

BAD! This flag needs to be retired immediately.

4. When a flag becomes soiled or tattered, it should be destroyed.

Section 8k: The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.

If the flag is showing visible wear, then it is no longer suitable for display.  This is an utterly simple concept, but it’s ignored by almost every business that displays the US flag. When flags need to be retired, you can do it yourself in a private ceremony if you wish.  Organizations like the Boy Scouts or VFW will also help you destroy worn flags, if you would like their help.  I’ve participated in several flag retirements.  It’s a very emotional event.

BAD! Katy Perry's costumes are not to be made of flags.

BAD! Katy Perry’s costumes are not to be made of flags.

5. Flags do not fly in the dark unless they are properly lit.

Section 6a: It is the universal custom to display the flag only from sunrise to sunset on buildings and on stationary flagstaffs in the open. However, when a patriotic effect is desired, the flag may be displayed twenty-four hours a day if properly illuminated during the hours of darkness.

The Code is silent on what “proper illumination” would be, but the flag should not be left in darkness.  Further, the flag should only fly in inclement weather if it is a weatherproof flag (e.g., nylon, not cotton).

USA's Bryshon Nellum, Joshua Mance, Tony McQuay and Angelo Taylor celebrate their silver medal in the men's 4x400-meter during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012.(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

USA’s Bryshon Nellum, Joshua Mance, Tony McQuay and Angelo Taylor celebrate their silver medal in the men’s 4×400-meter during the athletics in the Olympic Stadium at the 2012 Summer Olympics, London, Friday, Aug. 10, 2012.(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

6. When flags are displayed hanging from a wall, then the blue field is to the left of the observer, or on the flag’s right.

Section 7i: When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag’s own right, that is, to the observer’s left. When displayed in a window, the flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.

Display the flag properly, or don’t display it at all.  Why is this such a hard idea?  The rules are very simple, right?

BAD. No way this flag can be put away while showing proper respect for the US flag.

BAD. No way this flag can be put away while showing proper respect for the US flag.

7. A flag should not be touching other objects … like a nearby tree, or a roof.

Section 8e:  The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.

This happens in my neighborhood all of the time.  People post a flag from the front of their house, but are then oblivious when the flag snags on the roof or nearby tree branches. If you’re not displaying the flag properly … you’re not showing respect.  In my view, you’re showing contempt and ignorance.

8. Those really big flags on the field before a sporting event?  Not OK.

Section 8c: The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.

Another one of those “don’t get me started” public displays.  It is cool to see a really, really big flag … but then when you see how the flag is drug on the ground and wadded up at the end of the display, then I am not entertained at all.

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Congressional Research Service

US Flag Code

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