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Proper Flag Respect
With Memorial Day and July 4th fast approaching it is a good time to remind our units about the United States Code, Title 36, Chapter 10 better know as the “Flag Code”. Last year I attended several public events and was very surprised and disappointed that several basic elements of the United States Code were not being followed in our schools, in Troop meetings and during parades. Clearly, as Scouts, we can do better and help set a good example to others. The United States Code does have a lot of detail and I encourage everyone to read it but to keep things simple I would like to make you familiar with top four areas of the United States Code that are often not followed correctly and I would like your help to educate our leaders and our boys.
Be Proud – This is OUR Flag!
1. During the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance or during a rendition of the National Anthem all should stand and place their right hand over their heart or if in uniform salute. (paragraph 171, 172) This issue here is that most people do not place their hand over their heart or salute as appropriate during the National Anthem. Please instruct your boys to stand and salute with pride when the Pledge is recited or the Anthem sung! Also remind your boys to remove their hats if they are not official BSA issued ones!
2. The Pledge of Allegiance is very often misread! “…one Nation under God,” should be read continuous, that is, do not pause after the words “one Nation” as there is no comma here in the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. (paragraph 172) I would say 99% of us do not say the Pledge correctly, please instruct your boys so that they set a good example to all!
3. The flag should always be on the right – not as you the audience are looking at it but to the right hand of the speaker talking to the audience or the person marching the flag. No flags should be to the right of our Flag! (paragraph 175) There are no exceptions to this rule. I have seen some people keep it on the right when marching into a building or church and then keep it on the same side of the building when exiting, this is not correct! Always on the right and no other flags to the right of a marching flag! When in doubt, the easiest thing to do is have the American Flag be the first flag marched in and out and the only flag in it’s row.
4. When the Flag passes you during a parade or review you are to stand and place their right hand over their heart or if in uniform salute. (paragraph 177) I have seen veterans do this but not often do I see scouts do this! Please instruct your boys to salute when the flag passes by so that they show their pride in our great country and set an example for others to follow.
I’ve included the specific sections of the United States Code below if you would like more information.
Have a great summer and march with confidence now that you know a few of the basics regarding our flag!
Proud to be an American and a Scouter,
Nick VitovichTroop 288
The United States Code, Title 36, Chapter 10:
Paragraph 171 - During rendition of the national anthem when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. Men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Persons in uniform should render the military salute at the first note of the anthem and retain this position until the last note. When the flag is not displayed, those present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed there.
Paragraph 172 - The Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, 'I pledge allegiance to the Flag of the United States of America, and to the Republic for which it stands, one Nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.', should be rendered by standing at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart. 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. Persons in uniform should remain silent, face the flag, and render the military salute.
§175. Position and manner of display
The flag, when carried in a procession with another flag or flags, should be either on the marching right; that is, the flag's own right, or, if there is a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.
a) The flag should not be displayed on a float in a parade except from a staff, or as provided in subsection (i) of this section.
b) 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.
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.
d) The flag of the United States of America, when it is displayed with another flag against a wall from crossed staffs, should be on the right, the flag's own right, and its staff should be in front of the staff of the other flag.
e) The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.
f) When flags of States, cities, or localities, or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the United States, the latter should always be at the peak. When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the United States or to the United States flag's right.
g) When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height. The flags should be of approximately equal size. International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace.
h) When the flag of the United States is displayed from a staff projecting horizontally or at an angle from the window sill, balcony, or front of a building, the union of the flag should be placed at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff. When the flag is suspended over a sidewalk from a rope extending from a house to a pole at the edge of the sidewalk, the flag should be hoisted out, union first, from the building.
i) When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the union should be uppermost and to the flag's own right, that is, to the observer's left. When displayed in a window, the flag should be displayed in the same way, with the union or blue field to the left of the observer in the street.
j) When the flag is displayed over the middle of the street, it should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street or to the east in a north and south street.
k) When used on a speaker's platform, the flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United States of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman's or speaker's right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker or to the right of the audience.
l) The flag should form a distinctive feature of the ceremony of unveiling a statue or monument, but it should never be used as the covering for the statue or monument.
m) The flag, when flown at half-staff, should be first hoisted to the peak for an instant and then lowered to the half-staff position. The flag should be again raised to the peak before it is lowered for the day. On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon only, then raised to the top of the staff. By order of the President, the flag shall be flown at half-staff upon the death of principal figures of the United States Government and the Governor of a State, territory, or possession, as a mark of respect to their memory. In the event of the death of other officials or foreign dignitaries, the flag is to be displayed at half-staff according to Presidential instructions or orders, or in accordance with recognized customs or practices not inconsistent with law. In the event of the death of a present or former official of the government of any State, territory, or possession of the United States, the Governor of that State, territory, or possession may proclaim that the National flag shall be flown at half-staff. The flag shall be flown at half-staff thirty days from the death of the President or a former President; ten days from the day of death of the Vice President, the Chief Justice or a retired Chief Justice of the United States, or the Speaker of the House of Representatives; from the day of death until interment of an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, a Secretary of an executive or military department, a former Vice President, or the Governor of a State, territory, or possession; and on the day of death and the following day for a Member of Congress. As used in this subsection -
1. the term 'half-staff' means the position of the flag when it is one-half the distance between the top and bottom of the staff;
3. the term 'Member of Congress' means a Senator, a Representative, a Delegate, or the Resident Commissioner from Puerto Rico.
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.
o) hen the flag is suspended across a corridor or lobby in a building with only one main entrance, it should be suspended vertically with the union of the flag to the observer's left upon entering. If the building has more than one main entrance, the flag should be suspended vertically near the center of the corridor or lobby with the union to the north, when entrances are to the east and west or to the east when entrances are to the north and south. If there are entrances in more than two directions, the union should be to the east.
§176. Respect for flag
No disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing. Regimental colors, State flags, and organization or institutional flags are to be dipped as a mark of honor.
a) The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
b) The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
c) The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
d) The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker's desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.
e) The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
f) The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
g) 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.
h) The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
i) The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.
j) No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.
k) The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.
§177. 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.
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