People are proud of the American flag. Some of them fought for the ideals of the flag, others have lost relatives who were fighting under the flag (either literally or figuratively). Still others are simply interested in showing their pride in their country, or as a symbol of what our country has accomplished and how it can continue to get better. Our goal at ND Flag Pole Guy is to offer the sturdiest flag poles and American flags made in the USA so that everyone can securely and proudly fly the Stars and Stripes.
Many people know some of the rules of flying the flag, but few are aware of all of them. The United State Flag Code is federal law, though it is not often enforced because it contradicts 1st Amendment rights. Therefore, the rules of the flag code are considered advisory only, even though they are technically law.
We know what you’re thinking: 1st Amendment Rights + The American Flag = flag burning, right? No matter what your thoughts are on flag burning as a means of political protest, we’re not here to talk about flag burning today. We’re here to talk about other parts of the flag code that are seldom talked about but constantly broken. Did you know that people who are often the most interested in showing their love for the flag are often those who are most likely to break the Flag Code? Did you know that you might be breaking one right now? We thought that might get your attention! Let’s take a look.
Apparel, Bedding, and Drapery
“The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery”
This is the one most of us have violated at one time or another, and might be doing so right now. Go into any store and you’re going to find items that are covered in red and white stripes with white stars on a blue background. Shirts, shoes, shorts, swim trunks. Is it the American flag? It obviously is, even if it didn’t start as a flag meant to be flown. No doubt you could head over to bedding and find a similar pattern on bed sheets and comforters.
A three second Google search shows that you can, indeed, purchase American flag drapes. But it’s more likely that someone will take an American flag and use it to cover a window in an apartment. While at first it might seem like a patriotic use of the flag, it’s an obvious violation of flag code.
“The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever.”
Oh boy, how many times do you see this violated every day? 10? 20? 100? If it’s anywhere near the 4th of July, representations of flags in the newspaper and on TV go up exponentially.
Open up your mail and you’ll almost certainly see an advertisement that uses the American Flag. Drive past a car dealership and you’ll see representations of the flag on banners and car toppers. You’ll see it on disposable items such as boxes and napkins, which is a clear violation because it should not be “printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.” That’s right, no image of the flag should thrown away, so it’s better to not use it in the first place.
Interestingly, even we use the flag as a means of advertising our flag pole installation business! Technically our logo is okay since we’re using the Betsy Ross Flag, which is no longer the official Flag of the United States. We do use images of American flags on our website, but it’s hard to sell American flags that are made in the USA without showing you the product in action!
Touching Anything Beneath It
“The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.”
You might ardently follow the flag code every day… for the flag that’s on your flag pole. But what about the other flags in your life? If your child gets a tiny American flag at a parade, do you make sure that it never gets tossed on the van floor or the floor of their room? If your 4th of July sandwich comes with a toothpick adorned with a tiny paper American flag, what do you do if it gets in the ketchup? Does your bumper sticker with an image of the flag ever get wet?
These are tough questions to answer when the American flag is everywhere and comes adorned on everything.
Costumes and Athletic Uniforms
“No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform”
We have to give it to professional sports teams, we can’t think of one that uses the American flag as their uniform. They seem to abide by the Flag Code. Let’s us know if you can think of one that does.
But costumes? Captain America is certainly in trouble, as is anyone who dresses up like him for Halloween! A quick search for American Flag Costume shows a variety of costumes you can buy to mimic the look of the American flag.
Technically, the American flag should not adorn clothing at all, except for “a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations.” Depending on interpretation, even that nice polo shirt with an embroidered American flag might violate the Flag Code unless you’re a member of one of those organizations. And even if you are, it might violate the Code because it’s not part of your uniform!
So What’s The Solution?
It’s a tricky situation, isn’t it? Many of us want to show our love for the flag, but doing so can actually violate the Flag Code. Does wearing the Stars and Stripes as a shirt cheapen it or work as a means to show patriotism? Is it okay to violate the flag code in order to show your love for your country? After all, it’s your 1st Amendment right to do so.
We won’t claim to have the answer. We love the American flag, and we’re interested in helping other people show their love and respect for it. We do know that the best way to display your American flag — one that adheres to the Flag Code — is to fly it properly-lit on a sturdy flag pole. Contact ND Flag Pole Guy to get the process started, because we can help you find the right flagpole and a flag that is perfectly-sized to match. We look forward to hearing from you!