American flag displays range from great to way less than great. The problems seem to crop up when multiple flag poles, of the same height are installed. I wrote an article about this last February regarding two different displays of three flag poles. In the examples given in that article, both sets of flags were flown properly, but since then, I have noticed another pole arrangement that concerns me.
The three flag poles are the same height, arranged in a triangle. The two back poles are used to fly the Texas and corporate flag, while flying the American flag on the center, front pole. The last few months, I’ve noticed more and more displays laid out in this manner. There’s only one problem … the flags are flying improperly.
(e) The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.
… at the center and at the highest point of the group … The first position mentioned for the American flag is centered and highest, but how can that be with three poles the same height? If the front, center pole was noticeably higher, the display meets this protocol, but the poles are the same height. That means 7(e) might not work.
Section 7(f) says,
(f)… 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.
Ah … now we’re getting somewhere. 7(f) is about adjacent staffs, and gives another set of guidelines to meet. A closer look will tell us if the display meets these requirements.
The Merriam-Webster online dictionary defines adjacent this way.
1 a : not distant : NEARBY <the city and adjacent suburbs> b : having a common endpoint or border <adjacent lots> <adjacent sides of a triangle> c : immediately preceding or following
The three flag poles in the photograph are clearly adjacent, according to the definition and the state and corporate flags aren’t above the U.S. flag, but do you see the problem? The Texas flag is flying to the right of the United States flag, and that’s a no-no.
This style of triple flag display is quite common, but to fly the flags correctly would look strange. In fact, people who didn’t know better would think they were wrong if flown properly. From left to right they should be: corporate flag, Texas flag, American flag. This puts the Texas flag in front of the U.S. flag, but in the proper order.
Now you’re beginning to see the problem with this flag pole arrangement. Even when it’s right, it looks wrong. It is a no-win situation and very poor planning.
I don’t know who is selling or planning this type display, but it would be nice if they would make the center pole three feet higher. That would solve the problem. Or just put the poles in a straight line, again solving the problem.