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Is it ok to fly a company flag on the same pole with the U.S. flag?

U.S. flag with corporate flag

U.S. flag with corporate flagIs is ok to fly a company flag on the same flagpole with the U.S. flag? That’s a recurring question here at The Daily Flag, and the answer never changes:  No.

A prime example

The developers of this subdivision made two poor business decisions. They spent a lot of money on a towering flagpole so they could fly a huge, eye-catching American flag. It certainly caught my eye. If the American flag were the only flag flying on the pole, I wouldn’t bother writing this post. However, with their corporate flag flying underneath the American flag on the same halyard, they get their photograph and a dishonorable mention on my website instead.

Why is it wrong?

Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8, paragraph (i) of the U.S. Code clearly states:

§8. Respect for flag
(i) 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. (Italics mine)

Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown. Please don’t tell me a corporate flag isn’t an advertising sign. It is. For the same amount of money, the property developers probably could have erected two smaller flagpoles—one for the U.S. flag, and one for the corporate flag of the developer. But the smaller flagpoles wouldn’t have been as highly visible from the busy elevated thoroughfare running alongside the subdivision.

It gets worse

The second bad business decision made by the developer of this subdivision is that the American flag is too large for the pole it is flying on, making it impossible to fly the flag at half-staff. It would brush against the model home, and landscaping. Businesses that like to attract attention with these big flags invariably make the same mistake: they put up a flag that is way out of proportion for the flag pole, and it is too big to be half-staffed.

Those who wrote and codified the Flag Code assumed that Americans of honor and goodwill would follow the statutes. What a shame that a business would choose their advertising over truly honoring the flag, when an appropriate display would have been so easy to achieve.

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OK to fly sheriff’s flag on halyard with U.S. flag?

Alan wrote to ask, “Is it appropriate to display a local county sheriff’s dept. flag beneath the American flag? And, would it be appropriate to display the American flag and the county sheriffs dept. flag without displaying the state’s flag. Thank you for your time.”

Alan—thank you for writing. Yes, it’s ok—to both questions. But it would be preferable to include the state flag too, since the county is a unit of the state (just as the state is a unit of the country).

In a follow up question, Alan asked, “Could you direct me to a common law or rule that I could reference to, that would support your comments of “YES” being okay to display the flags this way in case I am questioned by anyone?”

Alan, the answer is found in the U.S. Code, in Title 4—the section we commonly call The Flag Code.  The county sheriff’s department flag represents a “locality” and is the law enforcement branch of the county (and a part of the state, too). There is no problem flying it on the same halyard, and below the U.S. flag.   Best wishes, Deborah

§7. Position and manner of display
(f) When flags of States, cities, or localities, or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the United States, the latter should always be at the peak. When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the United States or to the United States flag’s right.

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Condo association and The Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005

American flag on white house

Betty has some questions about flying the American flag at condos.

I am in a new condo development, where we are developing rules. Each building is a duplex of 2 patio homes. Can we restrict the display to one flag per duplex mounted on a specific wall shared by both units? Given the design, there is no room to display a flag near the front door or patio.  Also, can the association require, at the homeowners expense, that a specific bracket be used and installed by an approved contractor? Surface is brick, placement is crucial and proper drill bits are needed to preserve the integrity if the brick.

American flag on white house
U.S. flag on white house with tree

Hi Betty. The condo development is very smart to consider these ideas in a pro-active way. The goal of the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005  was protect both the homeowners and property management, but there are still problems in execution.

The law protects each homeowner, so limiting a duplex to one (shared) flag would be a violation of the law. And I think there would be problems with ownership, responsibility, maintenance, et cetera with a shared flag. The owner in Side A might be willing to buy the best flag available, and the owner in Side B might be satisfied with buying a flag from a road-side vendor.

Certainly the condo association can enact specific rules regarding installing a flag mount, but if the rules are onerous, they will be challenged. As you are doubtless aware, there have been numerous stories this summer about homeowners running afoul of their HOA over flying the American flag. The negative publicity to the HOAs and management companies has been terrible, even when they were in compliance with the law, and the homeowner was not.

A necessary tension exists between the homeowner and the HOA or condo association. The homeowner’s right to display an American flag is absolute, but the “management” has a fiduciary responsibility to the entire development, and does have the right to set reasonable standards.

What if the condo development association bought top-quality flag mounts and installed them at each condo, precisely where they wanted them, as a courtesy to each homeowner. If the homeowner doesn’t want to display a flag—no problem (just ignore the flag mount), and for those who want to fly a flag, the flag mount is already there. The condo standards are maintained, and the homeowner has a choice in his flag purchase.

For what it’s worth, the facings on garage doors are a popular area for flag mounts. I see it quite often in condo and townhouse locations.

The text of the Freedom to Display the American Flag Act of 2005 can be found in Section 5 of the U.S. Flag Code.

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Lone Star flag hangs upside-down in TimeWarner Cable commercial

TimeWarner Cable is advertising in Texas, which seems ordinary enough. But the company is using a series of commercials that display the Lone Star flag hanging upside-down on the flagpole. The flag’s white stripe is on the bottom, and the top point on the five-pointed star is pointing down, not up.

I spoke with a TimeWarner Cable marketer in Dallas on November 19, 2009, about a specific TimeWarner commercial with an upside-down Texas flag, and I was told that the commercial would be taken off the air (it was the “football game and tail-gating in Texas” commercial). I don’t know if it was actually removed or not, because I don’t watch television 24/7.

The image below, from the November commercial, is from a screen capture sent to me by a reader at The Daily Flag. There can be no mistake that the state flag of Texas is mounted upside-down on the pole.

upside down Lone Star flag in TimeWarner Cable commercial Nov 2009

Last night (12/08/09) while watching television I saw a different TW Cable commercial—using what looked like the same set as the commercial from November.  The flag is mounted on an indoor pole, and sits in the corner office of what appears to be a football coach.

Clearly, the commercial is designed specifically for the Texas market, but just as clearly—TimeWarner Cable has deliberately chosen to overlook this egregious error in filming the commercial.

The conglomerate TimeWarner Cable wants Texans to buy their cable service, but doesn’t care enough about Texans to edit or re-shoot their commercials so the Lone Star flag is not displayed upside-down. If you interviewed a thousand advertising companies, I’m sure they all would tell you that insulting your customers is bad for your business.

If I were considering a television cable system, I would think twice about buying service from a company that doesn’t respect its market. Did TimeWarner Cable produce state-specific commercials for Maryland, Ohio, and Tennessee—and carelessly display those states’ flags upside-down too? Because I’ve heard the folks in those states love football, and I expect that they too, are most particular about how their state flags are displayed.

Once again, the STAR on the Lone Star flag should be displayed pointing up, or if the flag is displayed vertically by the hoist, the star points to its own right—or left as viewed from in front of the flag. Link here for the flag statute in the Texas government code.

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National POW/MIA Recognition Day to be celebrated September 18, 2009

POW_MIA_flag The third Friday in September is honored as National POW/MIA Recognition Day.

The flag is flown in the full-staff position on this day. While the law addresses flying the POW/MIA flag on federal installations only (see the link above), civilians should fly the POW/MIA flag directly beneath the U.S. flag on the same pole. State flags should not be flown on the same pole on these occasions.

I am not a member of the National League of Families, but I think those who are would remind us all that is not an occasion of mourning. This is a day to be filled with hope and determination, and to remember that there is still much work to be done. From the League of Families website:

UPDATE:  September 2, 2009

AMERICANS ACCOUNTED FOR:  There are now 1,731 US personnel listed by the Defense POW/MIA Office (DPMO) as missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.  The number of US personnel accounted for since the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 is now 852.  During the League’s 40th Anniversary Annual Meeting, a League member announced that she had just received confirmation from JPAC that remains recovered earlier had been identified as those of her brother, MSGT Donald C. Grella, USA, of Nebraska, listed KIA/BNR on December 28, 1965 in South Vietnam.  Also now accounted for from that same incident are WO2 Jesse D.  Phelps of Idaho and CPL Thomas Rice, Jr. of South Carolina, both also US Army and initially listed as KIA/BNR.  Three Air Force personnel whose names were released as accounted for are Capt Robert J. Edgar of Florida, listed MIA in Laos on 2/5/68, remains repatriated 5/27/97 and identified 4/28/09; Maj Curtis D. Miller of Texas, listed MIA in Laos on 3/29/72, remains repatriated 8/2/06 and identified 2/12/08; and LtCol Russell A. Poor of Indiana, listed MIA in North Vietnam on 2/4/67, remains repatriated 6/14/07 and identified 5/26/08.  To each of these families, the League offers understanding and the hope that these concrete answers bring long-awaited peace of mind.  Of the 1,731 men still missing, 90% were lost in Vietnam or areas of Laos and Cambodia under Vietnam’s wartime control.

You can help:  National League of Families

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Constitution Day and Citizenship Day on September 17

DKH_02Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is a combined event that is observed in the United States on September 17. This event commemorates the formation and signing of the Constitution of the United States September 17, 1787, and celebrates our American citizenship. What a great day to fly the American flag!

For an excellent overview of our Constitution see this article at the National Archives.

Citizenship Day, one of our newest federal holidays, was established and ratified by Congress on 2004.  It recognizes all who, by coming of age or by naturalization, have become US citizens.

DKH_09Oath of Allegiance is:
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”


In some cases, US Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) allows the oath to be taken without the clauses:

“… that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by law … “

If USCIS finds that you are unable to swear the oath using the words “on oath,” you may replace these words with “and solemnly affirm.” If USCIS finds that you are unable to use the words “so help me God” because of your religious training or beliefs, you are not required to say these words.

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Texas legislature passes protocol for folding the Lone Star flag

horse and ride with Texas flag Last October on The Daily Flag, I wrote an article titled Texas Fold ‘Em, about folding the Texas flag. The gist of the article was that there was not an official way to fold the flag, although state offices have traditionally folded it the same way the U.S. flag is folded.

Early this summer, the Texas legislature passed a bill that codifies a protocol for folding the flag, and now Texans have an official method for folding the Lone Star Flag.

Authored by Sen. Judith Zaffirini of Laredo, and Sen. Leticia Van de Putte of San Antonio, the legislation goes into effect September 1, 2009.

SECTION 1.  Requires that this Act be known as the Rod Welsh Act, in honor of Rod Welsh, Sergeant-at-Arms of the Texas House of Representatives, who is primarily responsible for developing the method of folding the state flag of Texas established by this Act.

SECTION 2.  Amends Subchapter B, Chapter 3100, Government Code, by adding Section 3100.073, as follows:

Sec. 3100.073.  FOLDED STATE FLAG.  (a)  Provides that the state flag should be folded as follows: fold the flag in half lengthwise with the red stripe facing upward, fold the flag in half lengthwise once more, concealing the red stripe on the inside of the fold,  position the flag with the white star facing downward and the blue stripe facing upward,  fold the corner with the white stripe to the opposite side of the flag to form a triangle, continue folding the corners over in triangles until the resulting fold produces a blue triangle with a portion of the white star visible, and  secure all edges into the folds.

(b)  Provides that a folded state flag should be presented or displayed with all folded edges secured and with the blue stripe and a portion of the white star visible.

(c)  Provides that a folded state flag should be stored or displayed in a manner that prevents tearing or soiling of the flag.

SECTION 3.  Effective date: September 1, 2009.

Photo Credit: from the musical “Texas” in Palo Duro Canyon, Canyon Tx

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Oh say can you sing—The Star-Spangled Banner

DKH_07 Last Friday I received an email alerting me to the National Anthem YouTube Singing Contest sponsored by the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and USA Weekend Magazine!

My correspondent asked if I would share this information with The Daily Flag readers, and I am happy to do so. Entries for this contest will end on April 13.

The winner will be invited to perform the national anthem at the museum and at the Baltimore Orioles vs. Atlanta Braves game in Baltimore on Flag Day, June 14.

The links below will tell you how to enter the contest.



Long-time Daily Flag readers will know that I am a purist about our National Anthem, and if my advice is worth anything, then this is it: If you want to enter this contest, then sing the Star-Spangled Banner with all your heart, and all your soul. Tell the story like it was the first time anyone was hearing it, and take us back to that morning in Baltimore harbor.

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Folding up “The Daily Flag”


Happy New Year! And goodbye.

It’s time for me to fold up The Daily Flag. I’ve had a great time for the past two years, and made wonderful friends. TDF readers are the best.

But I’m not very good at multi-tasking. As it turns out, my best attribute is also my worst attribute. That means I can focus exclusively on one project, to the exclusion of all others. Now it is time for me to put The Daily Flag aside and pursue another project.

Finally, for The Daily Flag readers, one last flag photo. Isn’t this perfect! It was taken by White House photographer Tina Hager, on the south lawn of the White House, July 4, 2002. It’s how my heart feels on the inside. Best Wishes to you all.