Sunday, September 23, 2012

Flag Etiquette and the Sticky Edge of the Envelope

   As a kid of the 1960's, I remember seeing Vietnam War protesters burning the flag, and knew it was wrong. As a Counselor at camp during flag raising, I remember knowing not to hang the flag upside down or drop the flag onto the ground. I also knew the flag had to be folded a certain way. But, did you know there are many other rules regarding the American flag. Some refer to it as the "Flag Code." So, this week when the Obama campaign released its new Obama version of the American flag, I paused and wondered, is this artist's interpretation, rendering, or remake of our American flag proper?

A few American Flag Code rules include:
  • "The flag should be lighted at all times, either by sunlight or by an appropriate light source."
  • "The flag should be flown in fair weather, unless the flag is designed for inclement weather use."
  • The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal."
  • "The flag should never be used for any advertising purposes. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard. "
  • "The flag should not be used for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top."
  • "The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture or drawing of any nature."
  • The flag should never be used for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
  • The flag should never be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman, and members of patriotic organizations.
American flag faux pas by the normal, the rich, the political and the famous have also made the news.
Some examples are:
  • Ralph Lauren 1984 Fall Ready-to-Wear collection shows his now iconic flag sweater.
  • Super Bowl 2004: Kid Rock wore a flag poncho.
  • July 2003: President Bush autographed a small flag.
  • 9-11-2003: President and Mrs. Bush stood on a flag carpet at a Ground Zero ceremony.
  • June 10 in Albania: a man in the crowd watching a parade wears flag shorts.
  • Reno, Nevada, 10-2-2007: The Mexican flag was placed above the American flag on a flagpole at a local bar.
  • January 19, 2009: newly inaugurated President Obama makes available to citizens flags with his image and name overprinted onto the flag.
  • May 31, 2011: MSNBC properly reports a painted flag on the side of Sarah Palin's campaign bus. There is a long unchallenged tradition of politicians using the American flag for campaigning purposes, but it is still against the flag code.
  • March 2012: Democratic headquarters, Lake County, Florida: A flag depicting President Obama's face in the blue field in place of the stars, was removed in response from complaints from local veterans.
Last week, the Obama campaign made available an artist's remake of the American flag with the Obama campaign logo in place of the blue stripes, and blurred and faded out the red stripes. There were no white stripes, they were interpreted as blank or intended in the body of the image. This artist's version of our flag was also available in the shape of the map of the USA.

What are your thoughts about this use of our American flag? Is it pushing the sticky part of the edge of the envelope?

"No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America."
"The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing."

Flag Code information gathered from:
                                                              click on 'American Flag Etiquette' link

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