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Who’s Going to Tell Them Their Flag is Wrong?

I saw this story and had to pause. In this new day of flag flying patriotism, it’s hard to make an issue with someone wanting to display the American flag, but I wish they would show enough care and wisdom to want it displayed properly.

A giant American flag the size of a football field is nothing new, but I’ll take this opportunity to share a lesson from the U.S. Flag Code, as it speaks to this display.

ksl.com – U of U Football Stadium Gets New Look

Horizontal Flag(KSL News) The football field at Rice-Eccles Stadium got a patriotic new look today.

The football stadium was host to a giant American flag that goes from goal line to goal line and is 50 yards wide.

Section 8 of the U.S. Flag Code is titled Respect for Flag. Section 8(c) states

(c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.

Out of respect for the American flag, we are never to carry it flat or horizontally, period. It is clear from this text—this particular flag display will always be in direct violation of the Flag Code.

It’s a shame that in trying to show their pride in the U.S. (without verifying the proper display and respect for the flag) they disrespected the VERY symbol of our country they decided to use.

What’s next? The Bald Eagle?

10 thoughts on “Who’s Going to Tell Them Their Flag is Wrong?

  1. It looks out of proportion, too.

    The problem is that its been done before, therefor people assume its okay.

  2. Yes Dave, it’s hard to put the genie back in the bottle. It is assumed that if someone has done it, it must be okay, so they don’t check.

    On the proportions, it is within a few yards of correct according to flag code. To be perfect, it would be 50 yards wide and 95 yards long. It looks odd because of that genie in the bottle problem again. Most flags today are manufactured to a size of convenience rather than code.

    Oh, and thanks for reading and commenting, Dave. You’re one in a million. Literally!

  3. And of course, the APO at UT carries a huge Texas Flag horizontally onto the field at some UT home games.

    Its one of the most popular halftime events and always gets a huge cheer from folks in the stands. Including me (I admit I never knew it was against the Flag Code to carry the US flag horizontally).

  4. It’s a tough call, Fred. I love it too, but at some point the law of the land (U.S. Flag Code) should be considered. It is used for clothing, paper plates, napkins, cups, and everything else under the sun. It’s meant to show pride in the flag, apple pie, and the USA, but does it? That’s the struggle in these situations.

  5. Is not the flag draped coffin of an American Veterian considered carrying the flag horizontally? This use of the flag could not be against the flag code could it? Only a question that came to mind I mean no disrespect.

  6. Hi John,

    I’m glad you took the time to write. Your question is very good. I have been searching for when the practice began, of putting the flag on the coffins of veterans. I have not found an answer to that yet, but I know it predates the (written into law) admonition to not carry the flag horizontally or flat.

    Without saying it directly, perhaps the flat display of the flag was always meant to be saved for flags placed on coffins. I don’t know what the exact description is—I always think of it as the “mourning position,” with the blue field to the left—over the heart.

    In America, the our greatest sorrow and our greatest honor is to lay the flag upon the coffin of a veteran, which is the act of utmost respect. Americans have no other colors except the flag. We thoughtfully and deliberately rejected the idea of royalty and nobility, who have their own “colors” and banners (their national flags notwithstanding).

    Your comment has give me a whole new way to approach my research, and I thank you. I get my best ideas from readers.

  7. Just came across your post and I hope you are still researching this topic and can provide some further insight to this matter. My husband I have also been discussing this issue about flags on football fields during the pregame ceremonies. My question is…are they actually “carrying” the flag??? To me, they are simply spreading it out for DISPLAY purposes. I know the code says “The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free. ” Once the flag is fully displayed, they don’t actually carry it anywhere. Once the ceremony is over, they take the flag off the field and, hopefully, fold it properly. I know the flag can be held flat…after all, that is the way it is held when we begin folding it. My husband thinks the football field display is improper…I think it’s ok. Have you located any further information that would clear up this issue?

    1. Cindy—I agree with your husband. I think displaying these large flags in a flat position is an egregious violation of the Flag Code. In simple terms: My Flag is not a half-time show, or a pre-game show. Larger does not mean more patriotic, to me.

      I say—let the Flag be the Flag and Fly It. Moreover, when the flag is displayed flat, it is viewed upside-down by half the people in the stadium, and that’s wrong, too. The flag is meant to be flown—not trotted about held flat and horizontal, and artificially “rippled” by the people holding it, so it looks like it’s waving. If the flag were on a pole, it could wave on its own. I wish instead of using these great big flags, the event planners would just give a nice quality small flag to every person in the stadium. To me, that would be a much more effective showing of the red, white, and blue.

      You are correct that the flag is held flat in order to be folded, but that is not the same thing as displaying the flag flat.

      As far as I can tell from reading the U.S. Flag Code, and reading in all the flag manuals for the Armed Forces, the ONLY time the U.S. flag is permitted to be displayed in the flat and horizontal position is when it is draped over a coffin. It is this country’s greatest tribute, and our greatest sorrow—to place the American flag over the coffins of those who have died in service to our country. And I don’t want the singular act of honoring our dead with the flag on the coffin to ever be lessened by displaying the flag flat and horizontal for “show.”

      Thank you so much for writing, Cindy. I think your husband and I are very much in the minority, but I don’t see any other way of interpreting the Flag code. Best Wishes, Deborah Hendrick

  8. They did it again today at the opening ceremonies of the NCAA College Basketball Championships in Houston TX.

  9. Deborah- I read what you said about handing out a small flag to everyone in the stadium. I would like to let you know that the small flags are handed out at many events including U.S. presidential campaign events. The truth is that many unconsiderate people throw the flag in the trash on the way out the door so that is not a good idea.

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