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Confusion Over U.S.Flag’s Position

I just read this article in the Oregon Daily Emerald, the student newspaper for the University of Oregon in Eugene. There appears to be a misconception when it comes to displaying the U.S. Flag with the flags of other nations, which is apparent from the following paragraph.

The Myth

Oregon Daily Emerald

There are many ways to display a flag, but there are rules of etiquette associated with display. When hanging the flag, whether horizontally or vertically, the field of stars should always be on the upper left, and never touching the ground. When displaying the United States flag with other flags, including those of other countries, the United States flag should always be higher than any other.

The emphasis above is mine, but shows a lack of research or knowledge of the subject. The information from the first part of the paragraph, is taken from Section 7(i) and 8(b) of the U.S. Flag Code, but they take license with the Code in the last sentence. I find nothing in the Flag Code stated in the above manner.

The U.S. Flag Code

To clear this up, let’s go to the Flag Code, Section 7(g).

Section 7(g)
(g) When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.

If you are going to fly the United States flag along with another country’s flag, use the proper protocol from 7(g). You wouldn’t want cause an international incident, would you?

The Confusion

I think the confusion comes from running several paragraphs of the Flag Code together. In 7(c) and 7(f), there is reference to the U.S. flag flying higher than other flags, with caveats, but as you can see, even 7(f) only says a state flag can not fly higher than the U.S. flag. It’s perfectly acceptable for a state flag to fly on an adjacent pole of equal height to the U.S. flag.

(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.

I hope that clears up some of the confusion.

For reference purposes, here is the entire text of Section 7(c)

(c) No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for the personnel of the Navy. No person shall display the flag of the United Nations or any other national or international flag equal, above, or in a position of superior prominence or honor to, or in place of, the flag of the United States at any place within the United States or any Territory or possession thereof: Provided, That nothing in this section shall make unlawful the continuance of the practice heretofore followed of displaying the flag of the United Nations in a position of superior prominence or honor, and other national flags in positions of equal prominence or honor, with that of the flag of the United States at the
headquarters of the United Nations.

1 thought on “Confusion Over U.S.Flag’s Position

  1. […] I saw this story several weeks ago and have followed it since then. It seems there is a lot of confusion in Colorado about flags and the display of flags judging from their statement in the article about the flag code. They took a complicated, 167-word paragraph and reduced it to three words: “displayed more prominently.” Another section of the U.S. Flag Code dealing with foreign flags is addressed here. […]

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