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Misreading the Flag Code

IMG_20150401_125846587Misreading the Flag Code is a common problem, as these photos show. Two of the photos were taken at housing subdivisions here in San Antonio, and the third was taken at an area bank just outside of the city.  All three photos (which I took) indicate a failure to read and understand subsection 7 of the Flag Code.

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It is perfectly  acceptable to fly other flags at the same height as the U.S. flag, provided that the other flags are flown to the left—not to the right—of the U.S. flag. But the people in charge of these flags are convinced that other flags cannot be flown as high as the U.S. flag. The result is a display of terrible disrespect to the Texas flag, and the third flag in the second photo is a regional school flag, which is also improperly displayed. The Texas flag and the school flag both are entitled to the full height of their flagpole under ordinary flying conditions.

IMG_20150401_130047225_HDRIn all three photos, the flags are on the proper poles, with the U.S. flag in the right-most configuration. The flag poles are erected facing outward and in such a way as to represent that which is behind them: a bank, the highway entrance to a subdivision, and the sales office in a new housing subdivision.

 

What does the U.S. Flag Code actually say?

United States Code, 2011 Edition
Title 4 – FLAG AND SEAL, SEAT OF GOVERNMENT, AND THE STATES
CHAPTER 1 – THE FLAG
From the U.S. Government Printing Office

§7. Position and manner of display

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

I see this problem far too often, and not only on private property, but at city and county buildings, too.

Photos by Deborah Hendrick for The Daily Flag.

 

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3 thoughts on “Misreading the Flag Code

  1. Deborah, In one of your other posts you said that the National Anthem is always played before a state song, not the other way around? I agree with this, but was wondering what source you used. My community band director insists on playing the State of Maine Song before the national anthem and gave me some rationalization about “hosts” always come first, saying I t applied to states as well as countries – still waiting for his documentation on that, which he claims to had. Trying to prove that the National anthem always comes first before state songs, but can’t find a definitive answer – hope you can help me.

    1. Richard, it’s the National Association for Music Education, a professional association for music teachers. I am not a member so I can’t see what documents they may support on their website. I did find a few links about teaching schoolchildren about the National Anthem, but that doesn’t answer your question. However, you might telephone them and ask your question. I feel certain it has been asked before.

      I rely on the book PROTOCOL, The Complete Handbook of Diplomatic, Official and Social Usage by Mary Jane McCaffree, Pauline Innis, and Richard M. Sand for protocol and etiquette information. This book has been used for reference by the US Department of State, Congress, and the United Nations for more than twenty-five years. The book reiterates “the long-standing practice to play the national anthems of foreign visitors before the American anthem,” but does not address performing the American national anthem in conjunction with state songs. But I cannot think of any event where a state’s “song” would be played before the National Anthem. I think the reason we can’t find anything that addresses this question is because it IS an unthinkable scenario.

      Other questions and answers on this topic can be found at this entry on The Daily Flag. This may be the post you read originally.

      I’m sorry I couldn’t help you more. Best wishes, Deborah

      1. Hi Richard. Thank you for taking the time to research this problem.
        Company comes first, when it comes to performances of the National Anthem, which is why we play Canada’s national anthem first at American hockey games. But state songs are not company, and the National Anthem (just like the National flag) takes precedence over any occasion that would involve a state. I can’t imagine what the band director has for documentation. The National Anthem code does not mention states at all, and the Flag Code makes it very plain that our National flag always takes precedence over state flags. Let me do some research. The National Music Educators Association (I’m not sure if that’s the exact name, but it’s close) probably has a finding on this topic. Let me do a little research myself and I will let you know what I find.
        Thank you for writing to The Daily Flag. Best wishes, Deborah Hendrick

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