Posted on 128 Comments

Protocol questions—Parades, the Pledge, and the National Anthem

That’s a lot of title, but all the elements are inextricably linked. Yesterday I didn’t post an article on The Daily Flag because I was doing research and answering questions. I am not a flag expert, but I am good at research, and I have patience, a highly useful skill in research. If you ask me a question, I will do my best to give you the right answer. The right answer—the protocol—is often found in precedence or tradition, and not the U.S. Flag Code, or it may come from military protocol.

A recurring question, a two–part question, is which comes first: the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem. The U.S. Code, which is written for civilians, is silent on this. As a school girl, my classmates and I said the Pledge of Allegiance every morning: facing the U.S. flag, standing beside our desks, hands over hearts. This was in Texas, and there was a U.S. flag and a Texas flag in every classroom. (Some sets were small, some were large, and some were silky with gold fringe—but the flags were ubiquitous.)

We sang the Star-Spangled Banner when all the classes were assembled in the auditorium, gymnasium, et cetera. Sometimes we said the Pledge at the same time, but generally we did not, because we’d previously said the Pledge in our classrooms. That was a protocol decided by the school administration.

Which comes first?

Yesterday I spoke with a woman who was planning a large meeting. There was not going to be a color guard—the flags would be in place when the meeting started. She wanted to know which came first? The Pledge or the National Anthem, because a soloist was going to sing the Anthem. I suggested to her, based on previous experience and simplicity, to say the Pledge first. But there is no civilian protocol in the U.S. Code that says it must be done this way.

The Chair, to start the meeting, could ask for all to rise and say the Pledge, and all would sit down. After welcoming remarks and introduction of the soloist, then all could rise again while soloist sang the Anthem.

Would the presence of a color guard have changed the line-up? It seems to me that after the color guard posted the colors, the most natural thing in the world would be to recite the Pledge of Allegiance.

Last night I watched the All-Star game on television. Singer Sheryl Crow sang the National Anthem while accompanying herself with the guitar. I didn’t see the entire opening, but I’m pretty sure the Pledge of Allegiance was not said, because the National Anthem was traditional to the event, and it was sufficient.


Would you all rise …

Another frequent question concerns the color guard and saluting the flag. On this question, the U.S. Code is explicit: all stand, and all salute, in the manner appropriate to your circumstance. In a parade, most of the time everyone is already standing when the color guard passes by, so you salute and hold the salute, until the color guard has passed abreast of your spot. If you are seated in a formal reviewing stand, you stand (probably all simultaneously) then sit again.


riding club with colors What if the parade you are watching has more than one set of colors? Last Christmas Larry and I watched a parade and I lost count of the color guards that passed in review, because I think every "group" that participated in the parade was carrying the U.S. flag.

There was an official color guard to lead off the parade, then there were high school marching bands, riding clubs, Shriners, county mounted posse, other civic clubs (Lions, Rotary), the VFW, et cetera. Well, I saluted (hand on my heart) every time an obvious color guard passed in front of me.



Another question concerned music during the presentation of the colors: Is it appropriate to play music, even patriotic music, during the presentation of the colors? Here are the exact words from the Flag code:

Section 9. Conduct during hoisting, lowering or passing of flag

During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the
flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present except
those in uniform should face the flag and stand at attention with the
right hand over the heart. Those present in uniform should render the
military salute. When not in uniform, men should remove their headdress
with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being
over the heart. Aliens should stand at attention. The salute to the flag
in a moving column should be rendered at the moment the flag passes.

(Added Pub. L. 105-225, Sec. 2(a), Aug. 12, 1998, 112 Stat. 1498.)

It does not address the inclusion of music, but I don’t think one can make an argument from silence and assume that it is ok. The presentation of the colors is a outstanding enough occasion that it does not need further adornment, or "gussied up." Surely we can bear a moment of silence while the flag goes by.

128 thoughts on “Protocol questions—Parades, the Pledge, and the National Anthem

  1. In our school we say the pledge in three languages. What is proper when it comes the hand over the heart when is said in an non-English language? i would love some help here.

  2. Hi Larry,
    The U.S. Code does not address this situation, and it is not covered in the book “Protocol, the Complete Handbook of Diplomatic, Official and Social Usage” (what the White House uses).
    However, when there is a foreign guest at the White House—say the Prime Minister of Canada—then the Canadian national anthem is played first, and the American national anthem is played second, or last, if there are multiple foreign guests of honor.
    I think you could safely adopt a “guest language first” system, with the non-English speaking versions being recited in alphabetical order. For example: Korean, Spanish, then English.
    Thank you for writing.

  3. […] Recent public urls tagged “desks” → Protocol questions—Parades, the Pledge, and the National Anthem […]

  4. I work for the Military Heritage Museum and we would like to carry flags from the different branches of the service in the Veterans Day parade. What is the proper protocol for carrying them.
    Thank you,

  5. Hi Laurie—Thank you for writing. The proper order is:

    U.S. Army (first)
    U.S. Marine Corps
    U.S. Navy
    U.S. Air Force
    U.S. Coast Guard (last)

  6. When there are other anthems on the program – whether thewy be from other nations or from states or there are other songs such as “my Country Tis of thee” or “God Bless America”. is the Star Spangled Banner sung first or last?

  7. Hi Evan—you have asked a good question. As a courtesy to other nations whose citizens are guests in the USA, their national anthems are played first, and the Star-Spangled Banner is played last. If the National Anthem is being played with a state song, then the National Anthem is played first, with the state song played second.

    A patriotic medley of songs or individually, such as “My Country Tis of Thee,” and “God Bless America” could be played before the National Anthem if the medley were being played as a prelude, while guests were taking their chairs, et cetera. If these songs were going to be sung by the assembly, or by a choir, then they would be performed after the National Anthem.

    The National Anthem is never combined with other songs in a medley, and properly, would be announced so that people would have time to stand, take off hats and prepare to salute.

    Thank you for writing, Evan.


  8. What is the proper proceedure. You are in a US flag line @ a funeral for a vetern. As the coffin passes, some will put the flag in their left hand and salute with their right to the bill of their cap. Others will salute with their left hand across the body to the staff of the flag. Other say you can not salute when carrying the flag. I would like to know if there is proceedure for saluting while carrying the flag and what is it.

  9. Dear Mr. Coats,
    I consulted (Document) 5360.1-1, titled “State, Official and Special Military Funerals,” which is prepared for the Departments of the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Treasury (acknowledging of course, that the U.S. Marine Corps and the U.S. Coast Guard follow U.S. Navy guidelines). This document outlines in exacting detail how to conduct these kinds of funerals. I also looked at the standard documents for the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army for more reference.
    There are no instructions in any of these documents that call for members of the color guard to salute the coffin as it passes by. I find no instructions in the U.S. Flag Code for the color guard to salute when the coffin is carried abreast of their position. Lacking other reference material that would contradict this information, it would appear that the flag bearers do not salute.
    Thank you for writing and Best Wishes, Deborah

  10. We start our school day with a morning assembly for all our high school students. I am a stickler for flag protocol and get aggravated every morning because those in charge of the morning assembly start playing the National Anthem with no announcement and no call to stand. So halfway through the song, students are still rising and still talking. I have looked for any “rule” about this and have found none. Does anyone reading this know of the proper procotol in this situation?
    Also, I was informed last year by our local military protocol that usually you are not to do both the pledge and the National Anthem…usually it’s only one or the other.

    1. Oh Lucy, you have to talk to the people in charge of the morning assembly! There isn’t a rule that says the National Anthem is to be announced, but it is common courtesy (and common sense) to let everyone know what is coming next.

  11. What is the proper protocol for multiple color guards at a community parade. Our parade may have color guards from the VFW, American Legion, active military units, police, fire, scout troops. Which organization is first in the line up? Should they all be at the beginning of the parade, or may they be placed throughout the line up. Does it matter?

    1. Hi Donna. I didn’t forget about you, but a trip out of town took longer than
      I anticipated.

      Regarding multiple color guards and parade protocol:

      In a parade like you describe, the active-duty military unit should (always)
      lead off the parade as the first color guard. If you have several military
      units, they will usually combine their units to march as one. The parade
      coordinator needs to make absolutely sure of who is participating. Some
      military units participate as float entries, not color guards.

      After that, you have more options. The U.S. State Department uses a protocol
      that orders precedence by chronological date of official organization or
      congressional charter. (What is now referred to as a 501(c)(3) non-profit.)
      This solves all their problems about who comes first 🙂

      At first, this may ruffle a few feathers, but it is a very diplomatic way of
      organizing things once everyone sees the logic of the method. At the local
      level, you could use the local date of organization, rather than the
      national date of congressional charter. (You could have two American Legion
      posts, and two VFW posts, and three boy scout troops marching.)

      This works for all organizations, though you may still need to stagger the
      individual organizations. You wouldn’t want to put two marching bands next
      to each other, but the oldest school’s band could go first. A police color
      guard and fire station color guard could quite likely represent the same
      municipality. But one still came first. This is a delicate question but it
      has to be asked. A local scout troop may date from 1915, and the oldest
      American Legion post may date from 1925.

      Obviously, the parade would look goofy if all the color guards were crammed
      together to the front of the parade, even if they marched in chronological
      order. So somehow, those groups will have to be staggered through out the
      parade. In my area, it is common to have two or three Shriners associations,
      multiple riding clubs (western style horsemen), area county sheriffs posses,
      multiple Boy Scout troops, Girl Scout troops, American Legion, VFW, Vietnam
      Veterans Associations, Rolling Thunder, etc. And they are all 501(c)(3)

      Will the local American Legion post be insulted by being placed behind the
      local Boy Scout troop? Depends. Most AL posts have an aging membership and
      now are willing to ride on a float, with their colors attached to the float.

      All of this information must be balanced against the kind of parade. In a
      parade that specifically honors veterans (Memorial Day or Veterans Day for
      example), then I’d place the vets ahead of other organizations, but still
      trying to balance the parade entries. If it’s the Magnolia Blossom Parade,
      then Miss Magnolia obviously would precede the Boy Scouts, even if the Boy
      Scout troop charter dates from 1921 and the Magnolia Blossom Day (pageant
      and parade) began in 1960.

      But the key is what does the parade honor, balanced by oldest organizations,
      and types of organizations. In a local community, the for-profit businesses
      are very often what underwrites the non-profits, so they should not be
      overlooked. The parade chairman/coordinator must be a diplomat—no doubt
      about it. As a general rule, I think (hope) most people and organizations
      don’t worry too much about their placement in a parade—-a parade needs to
      be interesting all the way to the end.

  12. According to the, the order of Service flags are as follows.
    U.S. Army
    U.S. Marine corp
    U.S. Navy
    U.S. Air Force
    U.S. Coast Guard

  13. Originally Posted By Eileen
    What is the proper protocol for marching with a color guard in a St. Patrick’s Day Parade that will have the American flag, the Irish flag, and the Italian flag? I have read conflicting statements that state either (1) the American flag is to the right and then the flag of Ireland next to it; and then the flag of Italy; and then the State Flag (if present) on the far left. Or the (2) the American flag goes in front of the 3 flags. Or If the state flag is not included, then the American flag is carried in the middle of the flags from Ireland and Italy. Which protocol is correct????

    1. Hi Eileen. The American flag does indeed go all the way to the right (but there should be an “honor guard” in the outer-most right-side position—usually but not always—carrying a ceremonial rifle to protect the flag, plus another honor guard on the outer left-most end).

      It would be an extreme breach of protocol to relegate the “guest flags” of other countries to the second row, so those flags are carried, in alphabetical order—Ireland, then Italy—next to the American flag, and the the state flag is carried next to the Italian flag—then the other honor guard is on the end. If the state flag was not included, the line up would remain the same.

      It would be improper for the U.S. flag to be carried in-between the flags of Ireland and Italy. Occasionally our National flag is centered in a grouping with the flags of the Armed Forces or U.S. state flags, but never in a grouping with the flags of other nations.

      Link here and scroll down to subsection C for the part of the U.S. Flag Code that addresses this situation.

      Best Wishes, and Happy St. Patrick’s Day,
      Deborah Hendrick

  14. When the color guard is presenting the flag, how do they hold the flag with their hands; and is it mandatory for them to wear white gloves? I know the individuals holding the flags will not salute; but who is required to salute?

    1. Hi Neoma. White gloves always look nice, but unless the flag bearers are military, and following their orders, then white gloves are not an absolute requirement. As the color guard “parades” the flags in front of those gathered, ALL salute. Veterans and military, Scouts, etc. render hand salutes (to the brow), all others render a “heart” salute—place the right hand over the heard.

      I’m not sure what you mean by “how do they hold the flags with their hands?” Flag bearers usually have belt to hold the flags. When the flags are being held, the right hand goes above the left hand. If the bottom of the pole is on the ground, it is held to the right side of the flag bearer. The US flag is carried in the right most position, but traditionally there are “honor guard” who march on either side of the flag array, who may be carrying rifles, or not. Occasionally, the US flag will be carried in the center of an array of flags, which is acceptable too. But it is carried higher or the other flags are carried slightly dipped forward, which pays honor to the US flag.

      My apologies for taking so long to reply. Thank you for writing.

  15. When the Canadian Flag is brought in to a meeting when visiting Canadians are present,
    what is proper protocol when retiring the flag. Does is remain in the room or should
    it be escorted out prior to the American Flag?

    1. Hi Sharon. The Canadian flag is given the same honor and respect as the American flag. If the American flag is brought into the meeting area by a color guard, then the Canadian flag should be carried in at the same time by the color guard. The American flag always takes the right most position as carried forward, with the Canadian flag immediately beside it to the left, and at the same height. Traditionally, there are honor guards on each end to “guard” and “defend” the flags.

      As honored guests in the United States, the Canadian flag is set into the flag stand first, and the American flag goes second. The flags should be the same height in the flag stands, but the American flag will take the right-most position. If you have a color guard remove the flags, then the Canadian flag is picked up first, and the American flag is picked up second. The color guard goes out as it came in—American flag right-most.

      It’s the American flag’s “honor” to be right-most in position; and it is an honor given to the Canadian flag to “go first.” And you didn’t ask, but if the Canadian national anthem is played, it is played first, and then the Star-Spangled Banner is played second. All of these procedures are according to protocols established by the U.S. State Department.

      Thank you for writing. I hope your meeting goes well.

      Best Wishes, Deborah

  16. I have been trying to get an answer to my question for some time.
    I live in a golf cart community and most of the people are very pariotic and fly the American Flag from the back of their golf cart. Sometimes alone but more than usual with another flag such as military, sports, or state. I know how it should be flown from the front of a vehicle (Marine Corps Parade Manual [22 years]) but can’t find anything difinitive about the rear.
    Hope you can help. I need something I can use to correct people.

    1. Hi Ric,

      The Daily Flag includes a copy of the complete U.S. Flag Code. The information you need is found in Section 7. Position and Manner of Display. At (b) it says:

      The flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back
      of a vehicle or of a railroad train or a boat. When the flag is
      displayed on a motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis
      or clamped to the right fender.

      This is all that is written. While the Flag Code does list a lot of things we should NOT do to or with the flag, it cannot list everything. Frequently we must extrapolate from the Code, and apply it to new circumstances. Therefore, we can logically determine that if the code mentions “motorcar,” then we can extend that to mean the right side of any form transportation, such as a motorcycle, bicycle, pickup, or golf cart.

      I appreciate your frustration, and it has been my observation that the people who love the flag the most are frequently the ones who make the most mistakes in flying it. But the reality is—they will most likely ignore your corrections, no matter how sincerely and delicately you approach them.

      My suggestion is that you print out Section 7 of the Flag Code and post it in the club house, or if your golf course community has a newsletter, perhaps you can write an article for publication on the proper display of the flag(s) on a golf cart. Maybe you can ask for a few minutes on the agenda of the next regularly scheduled golf course meeting, and talk about flag etiquette and protocol then.

      Thank you for writing, Ric. Good Luck and Best Wishes,
      Deborah Hendrick

  17. After the presentation of colors in a graduation ceremony and the color guard begins to leave, at what point in a ceremony should the speaker put the mortar board hat back on his head?

    1. Hello Lee,

      The color guard will post the flags in the flag stands, step back and salute, then turn to depart. Once the color guard turns, the speaker can put the mortar board back on his head. Remember, the colors should be “announced”—“Ladies and Gentleman, would you please rise and salute … or some variation. I personally like it when the MC says something like, “Ladies and Gentleman, would you please stand and salute the Stars and Stripes!” Of course only the men are required to remove their head coverings, so that will cause a bit of confusion for the ladies, unless they have been briefed prior to the event.

      Thank you for writing.

      Best Wishes,
      Deborah Hendrick

  18. When in the U. S. , and wearing a veterans org. cap, and the colors of a friendly foreign nation are displayed and their national anthiem is played, is’nt it proper protocol to render the same honors as you would the U. S. flag. eg: attention and salute.

    Thank you

    M. Cassidy

    1. Mark, thank you for writing. This is an excellent question.

      The proper protocol is remove your head covering and stand at attention, but not salute. A foreign guest in this country would do the same—stand at attention and remove head covering, but not salute during the Star-Spangled Banner. This is a common situation for alien athletes that play for U.S. sports teams. This is the official recommendation of the U.S. State Department.

  19. I know the library of congress has a document regulating the order of active and inactive military units in the parade. My question is, do I have to lead off the parade with a color guard or can they be several units from the beginning, say behind our opening banner, festival float, etc?

    1. Cindy, the color guard goes first.

  20. during a flag ceremony do I raise the flag first or pray first.

    1. Travis, I’ve never had this question before. My first instinct is to recommend praying first—religious freedom being the bedrock of our country—before there was a flag that demonstrates our unity. But there is nothing in the U.S. Flag Code that would specify one way or the other. Thank you for writing.

  21. We are having a two day sporting event. Should we play the National Anthem only on the Opening day (day 1) or in the morning of both days (day 1 and 2)?

    Thank you!

    1. Catherine, the U.S. Code doesn’t provide specific instructions for where, when, and why the National Anthem should be played. If there a welcoming or gathering ceremony on the second day of the event, then it would certainly be appropriate to perform the Anthem again. Thank you for writing, and Best Wishes, Deborah

  22. My Orlando Florida pipe band plays a set of the five military anthems. I noticed in an earlier response that you listed the proper order of the military flags while on parade. Would that also apply to the playing of the military anthems? I currently have the set arranged as Coast Guard, Air Force, Navy, Marines, Army which was done mostly for musical reasons, i.e. the first and last two translate the best to the bagpipe, for a strong start and finish. The Air Force hymn and the Navy don’t work on the bagpipe as well as the other three. At any rate, I don’t wish to offend anyone, so I thought perhaps I should see if there is a “carved in stone” protocol for the order in which the anthems are to be played. Thank you.

    1. What a terrific—and thoughtful—question, Reginald! I have never read anything to indicate that the military anthems should be played in “order” by the corresponding services’ congressional charters. Certainly the band could perform the anthems in “order,” and I don’t know why anyone could fuss with that decision, but I will research this via some contacts in the Pentagon, and see if I can find a definitive answer for you. More later, Deborah.

    2. I placed several phone calls earlier this week, but didn’t get any answers. So I took a fresh look at my list and started over this morning. Finally I spoke with a petty officer in the Coast Guard band. She informed me that the military bands do perform the five service songs in the order of their charters. So it’s Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard. She did say however, that occasionally the various bands will perform their service song last, depending on the occasion. But performing them in chronological order seems to be a traditional method, rather than a “by order” or “carved in stone” protocol.

      In my opinion, if you are performing a medley of the five service songs and not the entire score of each song, I don’t know why you can’t continue the arrangement you have—-for precisely the reasons you cited. The only anthem that is absolutely a stand-alone performance is the National Anthem.

      Here are some articles I wrote previously for The Daily Flag, which you might find useful.
      Military Music Links.
      “From a beat up piano in Alaska to the city of Paris” which is the story of the five service anthems.

      Best Wishes, Reginald

  23. Thank you for taking the time to look into that, Deborah. Much appreciated!

  24. Is there a specific government document that says that the Color Guard or flag must be in the lead in a parade? A link to this would be much appreciated. Just trying to clear up some confusion for an event, but some people will not recognize a website such as this as being a definitive answer. I would like to say a big THANK YOU! for all of the info here!

    1. Jesse, I don’t know of any specific government document that says the color guard must be the lead in a parade. The U.S. Flag Code does not say that a parade must lead off with a color guard, or that a parade should even have a color guard. However, according to long-standing customs, and American tradition, it would be an extreme breach of etiquette and protocol for an official Color Guard to participate in a parade, and NOT lead the parade.

      In fact, if I were in charge of the Color Guard, and the parade organizers did not start the parade with the color guard, I would have a very difficult time participating in the event due to the disrespect shown to the flag. Once again, no parade is required to have a color guard, but a color guard isn’t going to show up for the parade without being invited, and protocol demands that the color guard lead the parade. (A patrol car normally serves as a forward scout to protect the parade, but it is well ahead of the parade and not considered part of the parade.)

      The U.S. State Department establishes protocol and etiquette for the government—and that includes display of the national flag, other nations’ flags, parades, et cetera. Perhaps the U.S. State Department could provide you with some persuasive documentation.

      I am honored Jesse, that you would consider The Daily Flag as a definitive authority on flag protocol and etiquette. I can’t make that claim myself. Unfortunately, the Flag Code does not cover every possibility. Buy I try very hard to follow the Flag Code, and extrapolate from it as closely as possible, then I consult the military flag manuals because so much of our civilian tradition comes from the military. Following that I turn to historical precedence, and tradition. The first and last question is always, “Does this honor the flag?”

      Thank you for writing.

  25. Hello,

    I am a “Bagpiper” and part of our fire department “Honor Guard.” What is the protocol for a piper while the colors are being presented? If music is played what tunes are acceptable while the colors are marched in? The bagpipes have a limited scale which does not allow me to play most patriot songs. Can I play anything as long as it is patriotic in nature?

    Thank you,
    Bill Macauley, Piper
    Bakersfield Fire Dept.

    1. Hi Bill—The U.S. Code does not provide a direct answer regarding music during the presentation of the Colors. All we can do is read what it does say, and extrapolate from there. We are told that all should stand at attention when the Colors are being presented, and to salute the flag when it passes by our position. We salute with either a military salute, or by placing the right hand over the heart (what I like to call a “heart salute”).

      The only song we Americans are called upon to salute is the National Anthem, which we don’t perform while the flag is in motion, but only after it has been “presented” to those assembled. Therefore, I say “no music” during the trooping of the Colors because we are suppose to salute during that time.

      There are however, different opinions. I contacted another piper who told me that he likes to play a medley of America the Beautiful, God Bless America, and It’s a Grand Old Flag during the trooping of the colors, which would certainly be a splendid musical arrangement. But I personally would feel extremely awkward saluting the flag to America the Beautiful (for example).

      I hope this helps, and thank you for writing. Best Wishes, Deborah Hendrick

  26. Is there any list of or recommendations when it is appropriate to say the Pledge of Allegiance. For instance, is it appropriate to say it prior to a dinner party in a club house. Not a country club with membership required but a space available to all who live in our gated community. These are not parties attached to national holidays or other traditional events at which we expect to say The Pledge. I would appreciate any US Regulations, not just opinions. Thank you.

    1. Ann, the U.S. Code provides no specific instructions regarding where and when the Pledge of Allegiance should be recited. It is a matter of tradition, and personal or group discretion.

      Thank you for writing. Deborah Hendrick

  27. Quesiton:
    We are the first marching/concert Band formed in the Coast Guard Auxiliary, flotilla 22-7 of Ft. Salonga, NY. We wear the Auxiliary uniform when we perform. If the band is sitting down in concert formation, and it is time to say the pledge of allegiance, the band, equipped with musicial instruments on their laps, tight quarters, with music stands in between (get the picture). should we (a) stand or can we stay seated during the pledge, (b) remove our cover (hat) or stay covered during for the pledge, (c) salute (to the brow), hand over heart, or stay at rest. The logistics to consider are the tight quarters we are generally in, the instruments that require one or both hands to hold (tuba, sousaphone, saxophone) and that we will be playing the Star Spangled Banner immediately following the Pledge and must be “ready to go”. Standing and sitting can often result in a “disturbance” (music stand falls over, noise, delays getting into position etc. Please cite your reference for this. Thanks.

    1. John, I don’t have the answers to your questions, must less a citation. I called some of my resources, and left messages, but I haven’t heard back from them. I’ll post again when I know more, and send you an email. Deborah

    2. John—Today I spoke with the Sergeant Major for the band at Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. She told me that the band, cued by the band director, very carefully rises together and stands at attention, facing the flag, and the band leader salutes the flag on behalf of the entire band. The band is then signaled when to sit again. In keeping with the Flag Code, they do not recite the Pledge, not does the band leader. If they are outdoors, they do not remove their covers.

      The Coast Guard Auxiliary band may be comprised of civilians, but they are uniformed and represent the Coast Guard (which is to say the band is uniquely identified with the Coast Guard and no one else), so I think the same protocol would be quite appropriate.

      Thank you for writing. I hope this helps.

      Good luck, and Best Wishes,
      Deborah Hendrick

  28. re: Presentation of Colors. There is a bugle tune, “Morning Colors” which is played when the flag is being raised every morning up the flagpole at every military base. “Evening Colors” is played when the flag is lowered.

  29. Please advise on the proper etiquette for participation in the singing of the National Anthem when it is played. I was taught that all Americans were to sing when their anthem was played, but lately, few seem to participate at all. Thanks for your help!

    1. Barbara, I am a firm believer that we should all sing the National Anthem together. Those who can reach the high notes are held aloft by those who can hit the low notes, and the result is that we sound wonderful. But more often now, a soloist is invited to sing the National Anthem instead. Of course it would be impolite to sing so loudly that it distracts from the soloist, but I do sing along, softly, and I have noticed that others do too. I think it is absolutely permissible for you to sing, too. I do wish though, that someday a nationally recognized singer would invite those assembled to sing along, and conduct everyone in the National Anthem. Imagine everyone in the stands and on the field at the Super Bowl singing the National Anthem together!

  30. When marching in a parade, is it proper to have a rifleman on each side of the Flag? When short of marching personnel, can you get by with having only one rifeleman, on the right side of the American Flag?

    1. It is always appropriate to have “honor guards” —-armed guards—-on the ends of the color guard. I think it would look odd to have only one honor guard marching next to the American flag, but if you don’t have two then I guess one is ok (but I’d try really hard to have two). Thank you for writing, and Best Wishes, Deborah Hendrick

  31. I am an Assitant Scoutmaster with a Boy Scout troop assigned to teach the color guard We have the US, State and Troop flags. They are placed in a single stand with the US in the middle and higher than the other two. I am trying to find out how they should be carried. Presently the US is in the center with the other two by the sides and dipped. Do you have any other recommendations? Our boys will be the honor guard at a hockey game and I would like for us to be correct.


    1. Dear Mr. Brennan—Thank you for writing. The static display you describe is fine. Parading the flags with the American flag in the center was formerly—and rarely—used mostly by the military. The preferred Color Guard method (now) is to carry all the flags in one even row, with the American flag in the honored, right-most position going forward, state flag next, then troop flag.

      With the American flag in the right-most position, more flags can be added to the Color Guard as needed, without having to “balance” the flags by having an equal number of flags on either side of a centered American flag, or having to carry the other flags in a dipped position. Here is a good illustration. I know the Scouts will do very well. Best Wishes, Deborah Hendrick

  32. Hello,
    We use to have a firemen’s parade Friday evening, an antique car parade at 1:00 Saturday
    and a big general parade at 2:00 Saturday. The color guard only marched in front of the big general parade at 2:00. This year due to the economy festivities were shortened and all 3 parades rolled at the same time. The firetrucks went by, the Antique cars went by and then came the big general parade led by the color guard. Many townspeople are up in arms because the color guard was not in front of the firetrucks. How do you think it should be?
    Thank you for your recommendations.

    1. Linda—count me in as one who would have been up in arms (and extremely disappointed) that the Color Guard did not lead the parade. Let me explain why.

      There is nothing in the U.S. Code (which includes what we commonly call the Flag Code) that says a parade must have a Color Guard. However, by military order and precedent, and certainly by historical civilian traditions and customs, it is an extreme breech of protocol and etiquette to NOT have the Color Guard lead off the parade if there is one present. Indeed, I am surprised that the members of the Color Guard did not make a formal complaint and/or decline to march in the parade.

      Sometimes those in charge of the parade justify putting the antique cars at the front of the parade on the grounds that the cars will overheat while idling during the “stop and go” that occurs at the back of the parade as the staged participants take their positions moving into the parade. That reasoning fails; the Color Guard can still lead the parade, with the antique cars right behind it.

      Thank you for writing, Linda. I hope this helps, and maybe next year it will work out better. Best Wishes, Deborah Hendrick

  33. For Christmas, my daughter gave me a Certificate from The Congress of the United States certifying that an American Flag would be flown over the United States Capitol Building on March 8th, 2011 to commemorate the 15th anniversary of my becoming an American Citizen. This flag was mailed to me after that date. This flag and the certificate signed by my Representative, The Hon. Peter King, is now of immense sentimental value to me. I want to have both of them framed and have them hang in the conference room at my office. The flag is a 3′ X 5′ and the certificate is 8″ X 11″. What is the most appropriate way to frame these respecting the utmost protocol?

    1. Hello Mr. McGarry—-what a terrific and thoughtful gift from your daughter. Your question is a good one, and there are several things to consider. There is nothing in the Flag Code that addresses this, so my suggestions are strictly traditional.

      If you don’t intend to fly your flag again (like on your citizenship anniversary), then displaying it in one of those triangular shaped wooden and glass boxes would be quite appropriate. Most of those boxes are made for the larger casket flags (which are almost twice as long as wide) so it may be a bit harder to find the smaller box. I’ve never actually shopped for a box that would hold a 3×5 flag, but I’m sure they are available. If your flag came to you already folded into a triangle—don’t unfold it, as the 3×5 size is harder to fold in the traditional 13-fold and it takes a lot of practice to make a tight, pretty triangle.

      If you find your flag box first, then you should be able to have a custom made frame for your certificate out of wood that matches or compliments the flag box. It cost more, but you might want to consider having the certificate framed under UV glass, which will protect the paper, printing, and ink, and ask the framers to use acid-free framing paper and mat, which will also preserve the life of the paper certificate. Finally, know that sunlight, and fluorescent lighting are the enemies of textiles and paper, so display your flag and certificate where sunlight won’t hit them, and away from fluorescent lighting if at all possible (or insist on UV glass).

      You could also have a custom frame/box made and put both the flag and certificate in the same box. A frame shop that has been in business a long time will probably have some good ideas and suggestions, and perhaps some examples.

      Thank you for writing, and best wishes,
      Deborah Hendrick

  34. I am working with a large organization that sponsored a huge parade every year. Because the parade is a salute to veterans we may have more than one color guard. What is the protocol? We may have one from the Colorado National Guard, one from the VFW, one an independent group of GLBT veterans and one from a high school. What is the proper marching order.? Is it alright to have other parade units between the various color guards?
    Thanks for your assistance.

    1. Hi John, thank you for writing. The U.S. State Department has established a simple protocol for ordering parade. If there is a military Color Guard present, it always leads the parade. Presumably a military Color Guard would not show up at a parade without being invited, and they would naturally assume to be the lead Color Guard. If the high school color guard you mentioned is a Jr. ROTC unit, then it comes next, because the ROTC operate under the aegis of their respective branch of the Armed Forces, and as such is considered a military unit and take precedent over an incorporated civilian organization.

      Now it becomes a little more interesting. The state department orders 501(c)(3) organizations by the dates of their charters (or date of incorporation)—-oldest goes first. The VFW was chartered in 1936, so it would come next. The GLBT veterans could be a chartered organization, but it is unlikely their charter predates the VFW. (If for example, there were two or more VFW posts participating in the parade, their posts would be sub-ordered by the dates of the post charters, with oldest going first.)

      It is permissible to to place other parade units between the various Color Guards, but if the point of the parade is to honor veterans, then I would not, since the veterans are the guests of honor.

      I hope this helps. Best Wishes, Deborah Hendrick

  35. Hello. I am the director of a community band that will be marching in three patriotic/military parades this summer. We would like to march an Honor guard consisting of the US and CA flags, as well as our City flag, our organization flag, and a flag honoring the Park District of which we are a member. I have heard that in military-protocol parades, only one Honor Guard is allowed to fly the US and state flag, Is this true? If not, what are the “rules” which would allow us to march our Honor Guard to protocol?


    1. Thank you for writing, Kody. You have brought up a topic that can be confusing regarding the Color Guard.

      A patriotic parade is not necessarily a military parade. If the parade were strictly a military parade, it is unlikely that a community band would be marching in it. And there would be only one Color Guard.

      However, military units of all kinds frequently are invited to participate in a civilian parade, but they are always invited to attend because it takes all kinds of permission for them to participate. A military unit would not just show up, and most especially not a military Color Guard.

      Very often, the organizers of a civilian parade will invite a military unit to carry the Colors. I suspect this is the case in the three parades that the band will be marching in this summer. A military Color Guard takes complete priority over all other Color Guards, and it will always lead the parade.

      It may well be that the organizers of these parades want there to be only one Color Guard, and that is their decision. You will want to ask them if you have any doubt. However, unless the band is specifically asked to leave its Color Guard at home (I can’t imagine that happening), there is no reason why you cannot march with your own Colors. In times past, it was uncommon for so many diverse organizations to have their own Color Guard, but it is quite permissible on the whole, and very common now.

      You didn’t ask, but the military uses the term Color Guard, a form that I have learned to follow because it is easier for me. Honor guards refer to those who stand guard on either end of the Color Guard, to protect the flag against harm.

      Thank you for writing. I hope this helps.
      Best Wishes, Deborah Hendrick

  36. Hello can civilians ( patriotic americans ) have Colors, American Flag draped over the casket and the flag presented to the family?

    1. Yes, it is permissible to place an American flag on the casket of a civilian, and present the folded flag to the family. There is nothing written anywhere that would deny this act of honor and respect for an American patriot.

  37. Hello! The information you have provided has been a great service to myself, as I am “chock full” of questions. I would like to inquire where to find the “regs” or whatever literature you have stating that the military must lead a parade vs civilian police or a vfw, I just finished a parade with a base honor guard that was led by a local police dept, however we did not decline to march, but I thought it was improper. I looked for the information for about 3 hours now to no avail, any help will be greatly appreciated! SrA Hoptry USAF, 179th SFS

  38. Thank you for posting the information regarding conduct during hoisting, lowering or passing of flag. Our organization is hosting a Troop awareness festival on July 4th and will be opening the day with prayer, the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem. I have noticed in recent years that at many parades and even school events that many people no longer take observance of proper protocol regarding our Flag. We were looking for something to read or handout right before the event started so people would be aware that there is a basis for this and not just a small town local custom to be ignored. My family has served in the military for generations and I have been instilled with the belief that our Flag is to be revered. I would like to think that with a little correcting on our part our community will once again hold themselves and others to a standard, my son is a Marine and I get very upset when I see someone chatting or refusing to remove their hat when the Flag that he defends is being honored.

    1. Nancy, I enjoyed our telephone conversation. Best wishes for the Troop Festival on July 4. Deborah Hendrick

  39. Hello. I am a Cub Scout mom. Recently our pack has had to relocate temporarily to a new meeting hall and the staves for our American flag and pack flag are too tall for the ceiling height. How is the American flag to be properly carried, in this case at an angle to be presented for the pledge of allegiance and then can we place it in a stand at an angle or must it always be straight up?

    1. Hi Cathy. The Cubs can certainly carry the flags at an angle, remembering of course, that the pack flag should not be any higher or carried more forward than the U.S. flag. And the flags can be displayed at an angle, although it may be tricky adapting the floor mounts to hold an angled flag pole. Perhaps someone could construct a new floor mount for the pack to use until you can get back into your regular space. Or you might consider mounting the flags on shorter poles for now. Thank you for writing, and best wishes. Deborah Hendrick

  40. I have a question. Recently, our Color Guard unit presented Colors at a Major League Baseball game in Cleveland, OH. We were told that when we marched to the middle of the field, we should face the flag pole in the outfield and have our backs to the audience. I questioned this practice, as I believed that the proper procedure was for the Color Guard to present the Colors facing the highest ranking dignitary (in this case, the audience). My son (retired Navy) said that when the flag is carried, it is the primary flag and all others are merely a decoration while the carried flag is present. My question is “Which way should we face?” If the President were present, would we present colors with our back to the President?

    1. Hello Robert. Events such as this are not covered by the U.S. Flag Code, which means that we civilians often look to the military for guidance, but the military doesn’t have a team playing in the MLB.. So we mix and match and try to figure out the best way to do things. The priority is never do anything that dishonors the flag.

      I agree that the flag in motion—the flag being carried—is the flag to which we direct our attention and honor. Thus we salute the flag being carried by the Color Guard. If the venue has a stationary pole flying the flag, then there is no need for a Color Guard. But somehow the event planners have decided that the pageantry of a Color Guard is better. And that is a national situation, not just in Cleveland.

      A Color Guard leads a parade with the Colors, or it “presents” the Colors to those assembled for some reason. It could be a school event in an auditorium, or it could be a Color Guard in a large stadium. It was not proper (in my opinion, and by what is considered standard tradition etiquette) to invite a Color Guard, then instruct you to turn your back to the crowd, and face the stationary flag pole. It’s one flag or the other, but not both. The stadium you went to has probably been making this same blunder all season.

      It is unfortunate that your Color Guard was prevented from presenting the Colors properly. It may be too late in the season to do anything about it now, but perhaps before next year, you can ask for a private meeting with those in charge of pre-game ceremonies to clarify flag protocol. Chances are, you are not the only one who questions how the flag ceremony is being conducted.

      Thank you for writing, Robert. This was a great question.

      Best Wishes,
      Deborah Hendrick

  41. I teach at an Elementary school where recently our principal has insisted we say the school pledge first, followed by The Pledge of Allegiance. He states this is because the Pledge of Allegiance is most important, so it should go last. My students and I think every school day should be opened with the Pledge of Allegiance, and it the most important so it should be said first. Is there protocol on which order the Pledge of Allegiance is said?

    Thank you very much for your help.
    Tina Kolley

    1. Hello Christina. The Flag Code, where we find instructions for saying the Pledge of Allegiance, does not tell us where or when we should recite the Pledge, only how it should be done. But we can take a hint from the U.S. State Department’s order of precedence by seeing how they order our flags, and songs. A state flag, and a city or school flag would never be flown ahead of our national flag. A state’s song, or school songs would never be sung before the National Anthem is sung. So it follows that a school’s pledge would never be recited before our national Pledge of Allegiance. The order of precedence is always National, State, city, local, et cetera.

      I am including links to the government web site for the Flag Code, and the instructions for the National Anthem, so you can print your own copies if you want. These include all amendments, citations, historical revisions, et cetera, and are valuable as national historical documents in their own right.

      Flag Code (which includes Pledge of Allegiance):
      National Anthem:

      Thank you for writing, Tina. Like the U.S. State Department, a little diplomacy may be required to make the principal change his mind.
      Good luck and best wishes, Deborah Hendrick

  42. Is it permissible to have the presentation of colors without pledge and anthem?

    1. Hi Karlene. Yes, you can have the presentation of Colors without the Pledge of Allegiance or singing the National Anthem. There are no “rules” that say it’s a package deal. But we are so accustomed to reciting the Pledge when the Colors are presented, that it would probably feel awkward if the Pledge were skipped.

      Thank you for writing.
      Best Wishes,
      Deborah Hendrick

  43. I have been told that it is improper to have both the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem. Unless I have been misreading the information on your website here, it is quite proper to do both at the same event — Pledge first followed by Anthem.
    Please be kind enough to give me the proper protocol.

    1. Hi Bianca. You are correct—it is fine to use the Pledge of Allegiance and the National Anthem within the same event. There is nothing in the Flag Code or the National Allegiance Code that says otherwise. Moreover, there are no precise instructions on when or where they should be recited and performed. The only instructions given address our personal comportment during the event—to stand, to salute, et cetera.

      Traditionally, the Pledge is recited first, and then the National Anthem is sung. But it doesn’t have to be. A program could be planned in all sorts of ways—always respecting the flag of course. I have always thought that saying the Pledge of Allegiance at the end of a special occasion would be a lovely way close, and send us out the door to our work and homes. Sort of like a patriotic benediction.

      Follow those links above. They will take you to the office government websites for the Flag Code and the National Anthem, where you can read everything. I always want people to read the entire documents—they are a wealth of information.

      Thank you for writing. I hope this helps.
      Best wishes,
      Deborah Hendrick

  44. I am a member of a local American Legion. At a recent Memorial Day Parade, I watched the Post’s colors accompany the Legion’s part in the parade. I had always thought that once the colors leave the Post, the Post is closed. I was surprised to learn that this particular American Legion opened at regular time, including its Bar, at 10 a.m. Monday morning. Many other posts in the state believe that as long as the colors are in the Post, the Post will be open, and Memorial Day is one of the few days that the post/bar is closed in the legion (until the colors return ~ 11 a.m.) I can’t find any documented protocol, but as the largest veterans organization in the USA, what are your thoughts? Many thanks –

    1. Thank you for writing, Mary. I appreciate your concern. I am completely unfamiliar with the operational procedures of the American Legion. I did a brief search on the Internet, but could not find anything that addresses this situation. Each Post may have a certain amount of freedom in daily operations—perhaps this is one of them. Maybe you can speak privately with the Sergeant-at-Arms for the Post, and ask what the protocol is on an occasion like this. If you were surprised and perplexed by this, the chances are that others were, too.

      Best wishes,
      Deborah Hendrick

  45. I am singing the Irish & US anthem on Sunday at the beginning of the NJ Irish Festival. They are also going to play Taps. What is the proper order?

    Pax et bonum,

    1. The U.S. State Department instructs us to play foreign national anthems first (in English alphabetical order if there is more than one) and the U.S. National Anthem last. Traditionally, Taps come at the end of a ceremony or event. Thank you for writing, Kevin, and best wishes. Deborah Hendrick

  46. Taps is last even though I am singing the National Anthem?

    Pax et bonum,

    1. Taps is a military tradition, though it has crossed over into the civilian world (Boy Scouts for example, use Taps at summer camp). There are no instructions for “civilians” regarding Taps, but it always comes at the “end.” It is an old bugle call to extinguish lights, that everything is over for the day. In a setting such as the festival, it would be a nod to our military and veterans, and a way of closing down the event. The Master of Ceremony might say goodnight, see you next year, or similar but not much more.

      Thank you, Kevin, and I hope the Festival is a great success. Deborah Hendrick

  47. Deborah,
    I just got done reading your answer dated Sept. 7, 2010 concerning proper parade protocol. I agree 100% with your answer. My town is haveing it’s annual 4th of July celebration and the organizer wants to put a bagpipper in front of the VFW Honor Guard. She says that this is proper protocol and wants to do it right. We (VFW) don’t like the idea and haven’t been able to find anything to support her claim of it being proper protocol for the bagpipper to lead us.
    Is the organizer correct?

    Phil Nichols

    1. I enjoyed our phone call, Phil. To recap, for others who may come along and read here, too: It would be a breach of protocol for the bagpiper to go in front of the Color Guard. Thanks for taking the time to search the internet and for coming to The Daily Flag. Best wishes, Deborah Hendrick

      1. The issue on protocol has been successfully resolved and the bagpipper will not lead the parade. We have nothing against bagpippers. Thank you for your help on this issue.

        Phil Nichols

        1. Very good news, Phil. I hope you have a wonderful Independence Day parade in your town, and I hope the bagpiper is a roaring success. I am glad that I was able to help. Best wishes, Deborah

  48. I belong to a quilter group. We hade some Quilts of Valor as our own service project. These quilts will be present to six individual veterans. My question is it alright to play a tape of the National Anthem prior to reciting the Pledge of Allegience

    1. Hi, Mary. What a wonderful service project. Yes, it’s fine to use a tape to play the National Anthem. You need to announce it though, to give people time to stand and salute the flag (with a military salute as appropriate, or hand-over-the-heart salute. Thank you for writing, and best wishes, Deborah Hendrick

  49. I am a high school band director and I’ve been confronted about the protocol of the marching band while performing the National Anthem prior to the playing of the game. Are the students performing supposed to wear their hats or take them off while playing? I’ve assumed since they are not military they remove their uniform hats as well. Would appreciate your imput.

    1. Dear Mr. Bailey, The instructions for the National Anthem, linked below, simply do not address this particular situation. But it is generally accepted that those who are performing the National Anthem are exempted from saluting (with either a hand salute or a heart salute) and/or removing their head covers. This would include vocalists, choirs, musicians, et cetera. Also, a band or orchestra would not stand to perform the National Anthem if they were previously seated (on a stage in an auditorium for example) nor would they salute or remove head coverings.

      BUT BUT BUT—it is acceptable for the band director, drum major, or conductor to turn and heart salute the flag on behalf of the band or orchestra (who presumably can play the National Anthem without being conducted). It is a very handsome and appropriate gesture, and I have seen the Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corp band do it. Your drum major can start the band, then turn and salute if the band on the field, or you can do it if you are conducting from the side line (or a suitable variation thereof).

      Lately, I have seen several country western performers take off their cowboy hat(s) before singing the National Anthem, which looked perfectly natural and appropriate, but last week I saw the Oak Ridge Boys sing the National Anthem (who don’t wear cowboy hats) hold their hands over their hearts while they sang, and it looked terribly awkward.

      Thank you for writing. You asked a very good and timely question.

      Best wishes,
      Deborah Hendrick

  50. I work as a special education teacher here in Barrow Alaska. We are culturally aware and inclusive yet I ran in resistance when as a Veteran I corrected the morning announcemnt that the Pledge of Allegiance is said in English first then it’s translation (in this case Inupiat) and not the other way around. Was I wrong?

    1. I apologize, Shayn, for the delay in responding to your question.
      Shayn, you are correct—English first. This is a problem that was never anticipated by those who wrote and codified (what we call) the Flag Code, so there is no specific language guidance from there. But honors to the national flag (which covers all of us regardless of where we live)—start at the top. The Pledge of Allegiance was written in English because English is the language of our government. It’s not a slight to the other languages that we speak (Navajo, Spanish, Hawaiian, Inupiat, Yiddish, German, et cetera) for English to take precedence.

      Presumably there is no slight to the Inupiat nation if the flags are flown as US first, Alaska second, and Inupiat third. There is no slight by saying the Pledge in Inupiat secondary to reciting it in English first.

      Thank you for writing, and best wishes. Deborah Hendrick

  51. Our Cub Scout Pack was given the honor to do color guard for a Monster Truck show in a stadium setting. They want 4 boys with 4 flags – USA, State, BSA and our Pack flag and 3 leaders. My questions are: Should all boys line up together as one? I know the USA flag should be on the right (on the Scout’s right), then the state flag, should BSA be next and then the Pack flag? Should the USA flag be more forward than the others? Should they just hold the poles straight on the ground (vertical) or should they hold them out (more horizontal), so the flag can be seen and if so, is the USA flag any different from the rest? Should all 3 leaders be directly behind them in a single row or should the one calling be by themselves and the next row have 2 leaders? Then the USA flag posted first and the others posted simultaneously? It’s hard to find info on a four flag ceremony, plus our Pack is just in it’s first year. I appreciate your help. Thank You.

    1. Hello Nicole. I (almost) envy you 🙂 I was a den mother a long time ago. I don’t know what happened to the rest of the pack, but my son stuck with Scouting and became an Eagle. He’s 42, and still carries his Eagle Scout card in his wallet. You might find this article enjoyable:

      The Flag Code does not tell us how to configure a Color Guard, so we look to military examples, of which there are many. But for your little guys, I suggest straight up and simple—in the line you have described. Don’t worry about dipping or tilting. Post the flags one after the other in sequential order as carried. The three adults should line up behind the front row of flag bearers.

      Also, if you go to YouTube and search for military Color Guard, you will find some good examples to view.

      Good luck, and best wishes. What a great opportunity, and the Cubs will remember this occasion for their rest of their lives.

      Deborah Hendrick

  52. Deborah,
    I am working on a planning committee for the national Wounded Warrior Amputee Softball Team to play a double header game against our local First Responders and a Army team from Ft. Drum, NY on May 10th. Please review our thoughts on the opening game ceremony for proper flag protocol:
    Post Colors, Pledge, Intoductions, National Anthem, First Pitch.
    Local Veterans Organizations, First Responders and Civic Color Guards will line-up on the first and third baselines with a 2 lead Color Guards marching to the Pitchers mound from each side of the field to post colors before the short program.
    We are thinking of sounding TAPs afer the end of each game to honor the sacrifices of our armed forces. Do you see any issues or do you have any suggestions

    1. Dear Mr. Fraccola, Thank you for writing. I would love to be in attendance on May 10—it’s going to be a splendid occasion. I find only two problems which what you have outlined.

      The Flag Code, a document written primarily for civilians, does not give us any instructions regarding Color Guards. The barest bit of instruction comes at the very end of the Flag Code, from Section 9 (included below), where we are told to face the flag (in motion), stand at attention, and salute as permitted (with a military salute or a “heart” salute).

      While most ball parks have a U.S. flag on a tall flagpole, we nevertheless like to use a Color Guard for the beauty, pageantry, and joyous patriotism of the occasion. Therefor, we direct our attention to the only flag in motion. Regrettably, two Color Guards are one too many. It would be improper to have more than one set of Colors.

      Regarding the playing of Taps—there is no civilian protocol that addresses this. I can only write you from my heart. I was immediately reminded of the the well-known verse from Ecclesiastes 3:1. To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven … . I think there are two reasons to not play Taps on this occasion. One is practical and the other is philosophical.

      The moment the ball game is over, there will be a giant rush of people ready to leave. Even if Taps is plainly announced ahead of time, printed in the program, et cetera—a certain number of people will have to go, and it will be disruptive and disrespectful. Instead of being a poignant closing to the event, and everyone will end up being annoyed.

      I believe Taps is reserved for two occasions: lights out, and as a burial honor. I appreciate the idea that we are and should be ever mindful of those who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom, but I think it dilutes the solemn importance of Taps to use for anything other than funerals and lights out. But it would be quite appropriate for the invocation (and/or introduction) to include and embrace the sacrifice and absence of those who have given their lives.

      A baseball game is a happy, healthy, sweaty event, and Taps is not.

      I hope this helps. You are welcome to call me, if you want to talk about this some more.

      Best wishes,
      Deborah Hendrick


      Sec. 9. Conduct during hoisting, lowering or passing of flag

      During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the
      flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present in
      uniform should render the military salute. Members of the Armed
      Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render
      the military salute. All other persons present should face the flag
      and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if
      applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold
      it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Citizens of
      other countries present should stand at attention. All such conduct
      toward the flag in a moving column should be rendered at the moment
      the flag passes.

  53. I have a non profit event this weekend, at a school football field. The Color Guard is going to enter the track and walk 3/4 of the lenght to where the stage will be, then present colors. We also have someone signing the national anthem. Would it be appropriate to start the pledge of alliegance when the color guard starts marching, followed by the national anthem, ending with the Color Guard arriving at the stage?
    Thanks, Bill

    1. Hi Bill, Thank you for writing. Unfortunately, the Flag Code doesn’t tell us how to conduct a Color Guard ceremony. We civilians so often look to the military for guidance, but that rarely addresses the particular circumstance. But the unwritten rule is that everyone stands and waits—in silence—for the Color Guard to get where it is going. If you will go out to the football field, and time yourself covering the distance, I think you will see that it’s not very long. It simply would be inappropriate to do anything else during wait. Will the Color Guard be announced? Because it should be, even though the distance and wait will be a little longer than usual. After the Color Guard is in the final position, then you can say the Pledge and sing the National Anthem. I hope this helps. Best wishes, Deborah Hendrick

      1. Thank you for your prompt response. Yes, the Color Guard will be announced and I will follow the procedures you outlined. You have been very helpful!

  54. What is the proper protocol regarding Invocation and presentation of the flag/National Anthem.

    Isn’t the Invocation first followed by the colors?


    1. Hi Gene. Unfortunately, the National Anthem Code does not give us any guidance regarding this particular protocol. It addresses personal comportment only. So, we do in fact, have great latitude in this regard, and the venue has a lot to do with it. So often we are bound by the clock—with a kick-off, tip-off, or first pitch waiting. But by tradition, the invocation generally comes first. But if the ceremony involves a lot of speakers, then I’d do the National Anthem first. Give the MC time to make introductions and so on, then ask everyone to stand again for the invocation. Depending on the event, you could save the prayer for the end of the occasion. I personally like a loving and sincere prayer before we part and go our separate ways. I hope this helps. Best wishes, Deborah Hendrick

  55. Your site has been very informing. Skimmed thru the US State Department on Flag Protocol (thanks for the link), we have to read it in full here shortly. There are several questions that we have / would like clarified if possible. We are in charge or a large civilian parade, we normally have several color guards units in the parade (VFW, American Legion, AMVets, Vietnam Vets, Knights of Columbus, etc.). Been doing a lot of research on the proper protocol for color guard units in our parade. What we would like to know is:

    Where does it say that they do not all need to be at the beginning of the parade? I can not find anything official that states one way or the other. You posted earlier that they do not need to be all at the front of the parade, but where are you getting that info?

    Since there duplicates of several of the groups, my understanding is we need to know the start date of each chapter to put them in the proper order?

    What constitutes a color guard unit? We have several groups that claim they are a color guard unit and it is only a couple of people walking (with flags) in front of a military vehicle. I highly doubt that is a color guard unit, but what officially is one?

    Is a Drum Corp unit following the color guard (they say for cadences purposes) really part of a color guard unit?

    Are military vehicles considered part of a color guard unit? We have a couple of groups that claim their vehicle needs to follow their color guard unit (at the front of the parade) since it is part of the color guard.

    We have a couple of units that say their older members that can no longer walk in the parade should be able to ride on a trailer following their color guard unit, again at the front of the unit.

    There are several emails, blog comments, etc that are floating around claiming one way or another for the various questions that I asked. I’m trying to get to the bottom of this and find the official protocol, not what someone thinks it should be.

    Any and all help on these topics would be greatly appreciated.

    1. Thank you for writing, Mr. Hausfeld. I am working on a reply, but it will be later today before I can fully respond. Thanks, Deborah Hendrick

    2. Ric, I appreciate that you took the time to do some research into parade protocol, and found The Daily Flag. I am sorry about the delay in responding to you. I was out of town when your question came in.

      Your search for something “official” regarding Color Guard protocol won’t go very far. The U.S. Flag Code does not mention Color Guards at all, and I don’t know of any document for civilians that addresses Color Guards. One person carrying the Colors can be a Color Guard. If I want to line up three bankers and my granddaughter, and give them each a flag and put them in a parade, then they are a Color Guard. There is nothing “official” that would say they are not a Color Guard. There is a family in Missouri that has carried the Colors in their local parades for years—mounted on horseback. They’re on their third generation of riders. The Color Guard could be members of the high school basketball team. It doesn’t matter who carries the flags, only that the flags are carried properly, and with dignity and honor.

      A military parade would have one Color Guard only, but you have to figure out how to order perhaps a dozen Color Guards. The U.S. State Department “orders” organizations and groups by National, State, military, municipal, 501(c) non-profit, and others (business, unaffiliated, private, et cetera). Within these categories, the groups are ordered by the dates of their congressional charters.

      All chartered non-profits are the same to the State Dept. This means that in strict protocol, the Daughters of the American Revolution lead just about everyone, because the DAR was chartered in 1896. The Boy Scouts of America were charted 1910, before any veteran service organizations in the U.S. were chartered. Would a Boy Scout troop yield its position in a parade to the VSOs? Probably yes. But these things must be considered. A local Knights of Columbus organization could easily have a charter that is older than some VSOs.

      You must first decide upon one Color Guard to lead the parade. If a military Color Guard has been invited, then that Color Guard leads the parade, because military units are ordered before civilian. It would be an extreme breach of protocol for a military unit Color Guard to be invited to a parade, and then not be given the position of honor in leading the parade.

      ROTC units, even Jr.ROTC units are considered military and trump ALL civilian groups. This is hard for some old vets to understand—that a bunch downy-cheeked teenagers would be ordered ahead of them, but ROTC units are chartered under the aegis of their respective armed force, and they are pledged to them, and there is an order of command that they answer to.

      If you don’t have an official military Color Guard, and you do have an ROTC Color Guard, then that ROTC unit should lead your parade. They are given the same courtesy and honor as a full military Color Guard. Would a high school Jr ROTC unit give way to a veterans Color Guard? Yes, probably. (But we teach young people how to lead by permitting them to lead—my two cents).

      After this, how the parade organizers choose their lead Color Guard is up to them. If this parade is a yearly event, then it makes sense to take turns. I do recommend that the parade committee keep a parade journal, and write down everything in it. What worked, what didn’t work. I strongly recommend a pre-parade meeting to iron out any potential problems in the parade order, and a final order of participants since someone always drops out, and someone shows up at the last minute.

      If you have local fire departments or police departments who want to march their Color Guards, then generally they are ordered under their city charters, which are ordered before 501(c) non-profit organizations. If there are multiple groups within the same national VSO—three posts of VFW, for example—then they are ordered by the dates of their local charters. The national American Legion was chartered before the national Veterans of Foreign Wars, but if you have a lot of these local VSOs, then they could be ordered by the dates of their local charters which would mix them up (and that’s ok too, if no one fusses about it).

      I would not separate a Color Guard from the rest of its supporting organization. Because we have an aging veterans community, the need for them to ride instead of walking the parade route is now very common. The drum corp should follow its Color Guard. A jeep or a drum corp is obviously not part of the Color Guard—the Colors can certainly be carried alone—but it’s ok to keep them grouped together.

      [Some more of my two cents: To tell you the truth, I would love to see a parade where the various VSOs left their organizational flags behind, and they all marched together (or rode, as needed) behind The Colors. There are so many younger veterans who are not affiliated with a VSO, and I am somewhat uncomfortable that they may feel excluded from a parade (any parade, but especially a Memorial Day or Veterans Day parade) because they didn’t join a VSO. An open invitation to walk with their fellow veterans of all ages might be very welcoming and encouraging.]

      Regarding the idea of ordering all the veterans and VSOs at the front of the parade: This would be for Memorial or Veterans Day parades. If it’s a Flag Day parade, or even a Forth of July parade, or the Pumpkin Festival parade, or the rodeo parade, then I think it is quite acceptable to spread the veterans throughout the parade.

      I hope this has helped. My original answer got wiped out so I had to start over, and I invariably leave out something when that happens! You are welcome to write me again here, or privately at Or you can telephone me until 9p Central. 830-899-4464.

      Best wishes, Deborah Hendrick

  56. What about a professional sporting event that wants multiple color guards from multiple branches of the armed forces. I work with the National Guad in my state, and we won’t support an event if there are going to be more than one branch color guard, rather we offer to help put together a joint armed forces color guard. The thinking is that it is more appropriate to have only one National flag on the field for the national anthem, rather than five seperate national flags with possibly different flag/pole sizes etc. Have you ever seen anything in print along these lines of thinking? Thanks.

    1. Chuck—You are singing my song. I have long fussed over the use of multiple Color Guards at sporting events. I guess the planners think if one Color Guard is good, then a dozen must be better. I have not seen anything in print except for my own postings on this topic. And the Flag Code makes no mention of Color Guards at all. But when the idea is opened to scrutiny, it is easy to make the case for one flag.

      One flag in motion takes “honors” over one flag on a flagpole, but with multiple Color Guards, which flag takes honors? It’s not possible. I am very much in favor of a combined services Color Guard and I hope you can reason with and persuade those in charge that one Color Guard is honorable and respectful to the flag, while multiple Color Guards is (instead) a spectacle. You will need to be very diplomatic. But the Colors are not a form of entertainment, nor a pre-game show.

      And one could make the case that if there were a flagpole and flag at the stadium, there is no need for a separate Color Guard, but I understand the desire for a military Color Guard. Certainly it helps focus our hearts and attention on the National Anthem.

      Thank you for writing, Chuck. If you have the time, drop me a note and let me know how it works out.
      Best wishes, Deborah Hendrick

  57. Thank you so much for this info, exactly what I needed but where exactly in Flag codes can I find this:

    You must first decide upon one Color Guard to lead the parade. If a military Color Guard has been invited, then that Color Guard leads the parade, because military units are ordered before civilian. It would be an extreme breach of protocol for a military unit Color Guard to be invited to a parade, and then not be given the position of honor in leading the parade.

    ROTC units, even Jr.ROTC units are considered military and trump ALL civilian groups. This is hard for some old vets to understand—that a bunch downy-cheeked teenagers would be ordered ahead of them, but ROTC units are chartered under the aegis of their respective armed force, and they are pledged to them, and there is an order of command that they answer to.

    We live in a predominantly asian community and somehow the Veterans and most importantly our US Flag take a back seat to the Chinese Dragons, I need to address our City Council and have durable facts and codes.

    Thank you again for your information!!

    1. Hello Karen—thank you for writing. What I have to tell you is a bit like Catch-22, but stick with me. The Flag Code is a document written essentially for civilians, and the Flag Code is silent on the topic of Color Guards. The Flag Code is silent on a LOT of topics, so we are guided by American history and tradition, etiquette and protocol established by the U.S. Department of State, and military etiquette and protocol. It’s a mix that we don’t always get right.

      It is our American custom to have an “official” Color Guard lead our civilian parades. If we can’t have a military Color Guard, then we want the Scouts, or the police, or sheriff’s department to carry the Colors. It is very common for veterans service organizations to carry the Colors (American Legion, VFW, VVA, and so on). I grew up in a little farming and ranching community, and the Colors in our parades were carried by members of the Rodeo Club, mounted on horseback—because that was our tradition.

      The fact is—anyone can carry the Colors as long as it is done properly and respectfully. Three bankers in suits, and my granddaughter in her Sunday best can carry the Colors, and it’s ok. It’s even ok to have a parade without the Colors at all. There’s no rule anywhere that says a civilian parade must lead off with the Colors. But the unwritten, never to be violated rule is that if the Colors are present in parade, then the Colors come first. And deciding who carries the Colors after that is predicated on the order established by the State Department (and that order is predicated on the dates of the organizations’ congressional charters). And woe unto the parade organizer who doesn’t put the Color Guard first in the parade.

      A few years ago, a parade organizer telephoned me. His town had a yearly civic fishing event that happened to fall that year on the Memorial Day weekend. The VFW normally would have provided the Color Guard for the fishing parade, but the Post’s Color Guard was elderly, and did not think they had the stamina to provide the Color Guard for the civic parade, and then the Memorial Day parade two days later. So the civic parade didn’t have a Color Guard. The condemnation that fell on the parade organizer’s head was swift and excoriating. Because too many in town believed that he and the fishing parade had dishonored the community by not having a Color Guard. The parade organizer—a veteran himself, and the chief of a city department—was in shock. And it took a lot of work to convince the community at large that it had not been a deliberate decision.

      If you approach the city council, be calm and compelling, and look each member in the eyes. Talk about American tradition and custom. Remind them that the public would be surprised and disappointed if the Colors were absent from the head of the parade. If the parade in question is the Memorial Day parade, or a parade that honors the military somehow, then it is unthinkable that it would commence without a Color Guard in the lead position. But doesn’t have to be military or veterans’ Color Guard; it can be “civilian.” (Of course, VSOs are civilians—special ones, but still civilians.) It would be quite honorable in fact, for civilians to honor the military in such a way. If the council is determined that the Chinese Dragons lead off the parade, then offer to equip the Dragons with the Colors and show them how to carry them. It would be quite a parade.

      Best Wishes, Deborah Hendrick

    2. Karen, you are welcome to telephone me if you’d like to talk more about this. Or I can call you if you’ll send me an email address. If I don’t answer, leave a message and I’ll call you back. Deborah Hendrick 830-899-4464

  58. In a parade with several color guards scattered throughout the parade entries, is the leading color guard the only one saluted, or do all color guard units get saluted?

    1. Thank you for writing, Richard. Unfortunately, the Flag Code is silent on the topic of Color Guards.

      We know that a military parade would march with only one set of Colors, but in a civilian parade I think it is fine to salute all the Color Guards. However, I would not be upset if some people stopped saluting after the leading Color Guard because they have rendered honors as appropriate. Speaking for myself though, I salute—with a heart salute—everyone who is carrying the flag. Even a little kid on a bike.

      Best wishes,
      Deborah Hendrick

  59. Our parade organizer requested our American Legion Color Guard left-face at the “reviewing stand” so we would be facing the music as the recorded National Anthem was played. Main Street was lined on both sides with flags. (We obliged last year) but at the last minute in today’s parade the flagbearer of our national flag refused to face the music so the others followed suit. It was expected the national flag would be carried forward of the state and organizational flag so turning would not have displaced the American flag from its position of honor. My phone line is burning up from locals who feel we snubbed the entire parade organizers committee and many are offended. The organizers instituted the music and reviewing stand as a way to honor our county’s veterans. I cannot find anything that addresses this. What should have been done?

    1. Hi Maggie. I apologize for the delay in responding. I’ve been traveling—still am, but I finally found a place to access the internet.

      I am so sorry that you have been caught in the crossfire of an unfortunate misunderstanding. The National Anthem Code instructs us to turn and face the music when there is NOT a flag present since the Anthem itself is worthy of honor. But if there is a flag present, we turn toward that flag and render honors, regardless of where the music is coming from. The presence of the flag “trumps” the reviewing stand and the veterans. The Color Guard did not snub them; those in the stands were supposed to “honor” the flag by standing and saluting it no matter which direction it was facing.

      The Color Guard is a whole, complete unit, even if the American flag is carried abreast of the other flags. The Color Guard marches and turns together. It have been most improper for the American flag to have “left-faced” to the reviewing stand while the other flag-bearers remained in their forward marching position. Under the circumstances, what the National flag-bearer did was correct.

      It was just goofy mistake and bad communications. Those who organized the event should have understood about the Color Guard, and the contact in charge of the Color Guard should have instructed them to make a ninety degree turn so the entire Color Guard was facing the stands.

      The parade organizer needs to write a simple apology letter, explain the misunderstanding, and send it to the local newspaper. I suggest a small meeting between the organizers and the American Legion to sort out the misunderstanding. Since you are the one taking the heat, it falls to you to be diplomatic (and conciliatory), and facilitate this get-together—so it never happens again.

      Thank you for writing. Please write back or telephone me next week if you want to talk about this in more detail.
      Best wishes,
      Deborah Hendrick

  60. When a group is carrying a large American Flag in a parade is there a specific order that it should be located. Our local parade had the flag behind the local Fire Department Engines, Police and Grand Marshall’s which was local law enforcement. The group carry the flag did not like the location and decided not to display it in the parade. I would like to know if there is protocol in position of the American Flag in a parade.
    Ricky Ruud

    1. Hi Ricky. A few questions, please.
      Was there a conventional Color Guard leading off the parade—marching in front of the fire engines, police, and Grand Marshal?
      Was this large American flag being intended to be carried/displayed flat by a number of people?
      Thank you for writing,
      Deborah Hendrick

      1. There was a Color Guard in front followed by Police, Fire and the Grand Marshall’s who included all local law enforcement agencies. The flag is large and is carried flat by approximately 15 to 20 people. Apparently the person in charge of the flag insisted to be in the very front and the parade chairmen said no.

        1. There was a Marine Color Guard obviously with the American Flag in the very front of the parade.

        2. Thank you for responding, Ricky. The U.S. Flag Code does not establish a protocol regarding the location of the flag in a parade (only that we should salute when it passes abreast of our location). While the military has a lot of guidelines, we civilians have more latitude. But by tradition and practice we want every parade to lead off with a Color Guard (and woe unto the parade organizer who fails to oblige). This parade did indeed lead off with a Marine Color Guard, and I will assume that honors to the flag were properly observed.

          I think those carrying the American flag were wrong to be disappointed about their location in the parade. Perhaps they had been invited to be in parade, or simply signed up to be in the parade, but if they were not the lead Color Guard then no insult to them or the flag was implied or should be inferred. (Lots of parades have multiple Color Guard units participating, but if they are not invited to be the lead Color Guard, then I think it is permissible to stage them throughout the parade.)

          Furthermore, when the U.S. Flag Code (Title 4, Chapter 1) clearly and unmistakably states: §8. Respect for flag (c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free. (my italics) then then group carrying the flag “flat and horizontal” were in obvious violation of the Flag Code. There is nothing tricky or ambiguous in this wording. I don’t know how it can be misunderstood, but I constantly read about or see the flag being displayed in this manner (sporting events being the most frequent occasions). Moreover, a flat or horizontal flag being paraded is upside down to half of the parade-watchers or stadium. I think that’s a bit of an insult.

          The U.S. Flag Code makes it very plain that the only time our flag is permitted to be displayed flat is when it is draped over a casket. It is a symbol of honor and mourning for someone who has died in service to our country, or lived a life dedicated to serving our country. §7. Position and manner of display (n) When the flag is used to cover a casket, it should be so placed that the union is at the head and over the left shoulder. The flag should not be lowered into the grave or allowed to touch the ground. (my italics)A flat flag is a mourning flag. In light of the injunction in Section 8(c), I see no other way to interpret this part of the Code.

          Please forgive my tirade, Ricky. But I can never understand why a group of people who wouldn’t dream if otherwise disrespecting the flag—would so obviously and flagrantly violate the U.S. Flag Code.

          Thank you again for writing. I hope this helps.
          Deborah Hendrick

          1. Thank you very much! It certainly helps our Parade Committee in the decision of flag placement and honor.

          2. I should add for your consideration, that when a parade is held in honor of veterans or military personnel, by all means you should place all the various Color Guard units at the front (and the group the CG is representing), and not disperse them throughout the parade as a whole. Thanks, Deborah

  61. I am a sports public address announcer. Many times I announce games played back to back at the same venue. It has always been my understanding that the National Anthem is only played for the first game and not for each game that day. It is to be played “once per event.” The double, or triple header being that “event.” I was always told that the Anthem is played for each game only if the arena is emptied and re-opened between games. Is this the correct protocol?

    1. Hi Tom. The National Anthem Code is silent on questions of protocol such as this. We are only told how to comport ourselves during the Anthem, but not when or where, or even how to perform the Anthem.

      I agree with your opinion. If one buys a ticket for each game within a particular venue, then I feel that ticket-holder is entitled to all the fanfare attendant upon the new game, including a fresh rendition of the National Anthem. If multiple games are played under one ticket, then I feel that one performance of the Anthem is appropriate. This is not to put a price upon the Anthem, because I loathe the Anthem being used as a form of entertainment, but neither do we treat its performance at an event at rote or trivial. This is why I always encourage everyone to stand and sing the Anthem.

      Thank you for writing.
      Best wishes,
      Deborah Hendrick

  62. I am the organizer of the 4th of July parade. This year an active duty color guard will lead our parade and the VSO’s color guard will follow, then the Civil Air Patrol color guard and then the mounted sheriff patrol. The VSO’s that are in vehicles, trucks and trailers are next. There is an American Legion Auxiliary that is also in the mix. the question is the definition of a color guard. everything that I find is that the color guard is a walking unit with the flag properly displayed or the mounted patrol that also carries the flag in formation. The vehicles are not a color guard. The American legion auxiliary is upset because the mounted patrol come in front of the vehicles. 1st of all I would never disrespect the veterans of our community — but the color guards traditionally lead the parade. I tried to spread them out one year and was also tarred and feathered. So now it is the question of the Sheriff’s mounted patrol being in front of the VSO’s vehicles. can you help me with this question

    1. Hi Nancy. It would be improper to separate the Sheriff’s mounted Color Guard from the other Color Guards at the front of the parade simply because it is not a VSO. If this is still unacceptable to some, then your ace-in-the-hole is to establish precedence using the dates of the local organizations’ congressional charters—oldest goes first, and so one down the line. The county, as a legally charted entity, quite likely predates everyone there except the actual military branch of the Color Guard invited to lead the parade. Establishing precedence by date of charters the standard position, and has been used by our nation from the beginning.

      For what it’s worth, I would have staged the various Color Guards throughout the parade, too. I’m sorry you were criticized for it. The Color Guard that leads the parade is the one that matters most, but it’s no dishonor to carry the Colors anywhere in the parade. At the local level, it’s nice to rotate this honor among the various groups from year to year (VSOs and other civic organizations) so that everyone gets a chance to lead the parade.

      Thank you for writing. I hope this helps.
      Best wishes,
      Deborah Hendrick

  63. I am a sports PA announcer. I often announce double. or triple headers for various sports. My question relates to the playing of the National Anthem. I was always taught that the anthem is only played for the 1st game when the stands are not emptied between games. I have had athletic directors that want the Anthem played for each game of a double/triple header because they fear the phone calls as to why the Anthem was not played, and of being called unpatriotic. Whenever I announce that the anthem will not be played, I cite the protocol I was taught and have never gotten negative feedback. What is the accepted practice?

  64. I have always thought The Pledge came before the National Anthem & have always done it this way. However, I learned today that Robert’s Rules of Order which is the parliamentary authorith of most organizations says that when they are done if do invocation that comes first, then the National Anthem the the Pledge. It clearly states the Pledge comes last. See edition 11 pg. 426 line 29-35

    1. Nancy, I thank you for writing to The Daily Flag. Which comes first—the Pledge or the National Anthem? This is the number one question at The Daily Flag. I appreciate Robert’s Rules of Order, and I agree with you that it is the parliamentary authority used by most organizations.

      I am a provisional member of a 126 year-old organization that uses Robert’s Rules of Order for conducting business, but this group recites the Pledge of Allegiance first, follows with recitations from several other historic patriotic writings, and then sings the National Anthem. It is their choice, and their long-standing tradition.

      The federal statues that address the Pledge of Allegiance and the Nation Anthem address personal comportment only. We are not advised as to where, when, or under what circumstances American citizens should recite the Pledge or sing (perform) the Anthem. And there is nothing in the statues to indicate which of the honors go first.

      Certainly any organization can choose to conduct their meetings according to Robert’s (and I would never criticize or challenge that decision), but I don’t read anything in the statues that permits me to advocate for one over the other. Historic tradition is very important. Personally, I have always thought that reciting the Pledge of Allegiance would be a wonderful way to END a meeting, especially if it did not end in a prayer. I think the Pledge is a bit like patriotic benediction.

      Thank you again for writing, Nancy
      Best wishes,
      Deborah Hendrick

  65. I have two questions.
    I’m associated with an Italian-American religious organization that conducts a procession. When we start and end, we play the US anthem first, everyone salutes as the US flag comes out and assumes the right position in the parade. Then the Italian anthem is played while the Italian flag comes out and all members follow and take their position. At the end, the flags are retired with their respective anthems in the same order. Is this correct?

    Second question…
    When taking a group photo we’d like to attach the US flag, Italian flag and a flag from an Italian city to the wall behind us. What is the proper order and heights when affixing the flags to the wall?

    1. Thank you Len, for writing. To answer your first question, the procession you describe sounds lovely, and your procedure is correct and proper.
      Regarding your second question: On the wall, as you are looking at it, the American flag would hang in the left-most position, and the Italian flag would hang in the center, and the city flag would hang on the right. Hang all three of them at the same height. The Italian national flag is accorded them same respect as the American flag, but the American flag come first in order of precedence—which put it all the way to the left as you are facing the flags. The city flag is permitted to be displayed at the same height as the other two flags.
      Best wishes, Deborah Hendrick

Leave a Reply