Carrying a Flag in Parade Horizontally

Discussion in 'US Flag Display' started by Mikemenn, Jul 12, 2009.

  1. Mikemenn

    Mikemenn New Member

    In another great post, you all answered the question of carrying a rather large
    flag in a parade horizontally. I'm not sure if the same person is from my home
    town (Marietta, GA) but the Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts did just that. The
    flag stretches across a 4 lane street and took some 50 Scouts to carry.

    I believe the general consensus in that post was that although the flag code
    states a flag shouldn't be carried in this manner, that the flag code is out of
    date to the desire of carrying the flag this manner.

    So let's say for argument that we continue to carry the flag this way. My
    question is, how should it be carried? Should the blue field go first or the stripes?
    And should the blue field be on the marcher's left or right?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    .
    Howdy, Mikemenn ! :D

    Welcome to the USA-Flag-Site Forums !


    Yes, there was (IS) an earlier thread in this forum about that very subject !

    http://www.usa-flag-site.org/forum/correct-way-carry-large-flag-parade-6151.html

    While it was duly noted in that thread that the Flag should never be carried "flat or horizontally" [ United States Code; Title 4; Chapter 1 (The Flag); Section 8 (Respect For Flag); sub-section (c.) "The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free." ], it was also suggested that the "U.S. Flag Code" might be in need of revision as it pretains to that sub-section.

    Unfortunately, nobody seemed to mention the concept as to WHY sub-"Section 8 (c)" was there and HOW it would connect with the fact that almost all parades have spectators ("observers") on BOTH sides of the streets along the parade route.

    IF they had, they might have remembered Section 8 (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.". Meaning, while the "observers" on ONE SIDE of the street would be watching the flag pass them in a "proper" way, the "observers" on the OTHER SIDE of the street would be forced to view the Flag passing them UPSIDE-DOWN !!!


    BUT..... for the sake of argument (or debate), let's consider your question.

    QUOTE : "So let's say for argument that we continue to carry the flag this way. My question is, how should it be carried? Should the blue field go first or the stripes? And should the blue field be on the marcher's left or right?"

    Okay, okay. I know, I know.

    There are actually THREE questions in the quotation for us to consider. But, for the sake of this "debate", let's just consider them to be "one", okay?

    IF we are assuming that the flag is "flying down the street" (lengthwise) as it is being carried, then it should be leading with its "UNION". That is, the Flag's "Union", or canton (the blue rectangle containing the white stars), would be along the Flag's leading edge as it progressed down (or up) the street. It would be "flying" on the street in much the same way it would be flying "in the wind" on a flagpole.

    So, as we are carrying the Flag "flying up (or down) the street" with its Blue Union in the lead and its Stripes following behind, the last part of our "debate" needs to be addressed: "And should the blue field be on the marcher's left or right?" (Emphasis Added).

    I don't know.

    I don't even know if the "marchers" are the most "important" part of the "equation", so to speak.

    Maybe they are, OR maybe it might be where and how the "Reviewing Stand" is situated (which side or the street), OR which side of the street will the most people be gathered?

    OR..... Does the "MAIN" path of the parade run in a North-South (South-North) or East-West (West-East) direction?

    HUH???

    Assuming that we have successfully established that the Flag's Union should lead the way, we must now decide on HOW to determine WHICH SIDE the Union should be on (Front-LEFT or Front-RIGHT). I believe that just might come down to EITHER the need to (#1) establish WHO the "observers" are, OR (#2) which direction the Flag's Union should be pointing the majority of the time and/or length of the parade.


    #1 "WHO"


    Regardless of "WHO" we might select as the "observers" in this debate, let's see what the "Flag Code" has to say on the subject.


    United States Code; Title 4; Chapter 1 (The Flag); Section 7 (Position and Manner of Display); sub-section (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." (Emphasis Added)


    So we have established that the Union should be to the "Observers' Left".


    So "who" are the "primary" observers? The "marchers" (the Flag's carriers), the VIP's in the reviewing stand, the sides of the streets with the most people (cameras), or "what"?

    I don't know.

    IF the "primary" observers are the Flag's carriers ("marchers"), then the Union belongs in the "Front-LEFT" position. To the majority of the Flag's carriers (excluding those on the leading edge), the Flag would appear to be (for all intents & purposes) "vertical" with the Union in the "upper left-hand corner" as they proceeded along the parade route.


    IF the "primary" observers are in the "reviewing stand", then it would depend on which side of the street (parade) the stand is. [NOTE: We could use the same observations and decisions with regard to which side of the street (parade) had the most people ("observers").]

    IF the reviewing stand (the observers) is on the parade's "LEFT" side, then the Flag's Union should be in the "front-RIGHT" position. Thus, as the Flag passed in review, from the observers' right-to-left, the Flag would appear to be "upright", flying "forward" (to the left), with the Union in the upper-LEFT position. A-OK.

    On the other hand.....

    IF the reviewing stand is on the parade's "RIGHT" side, or you have the most parade watchers (observers) on the "RIGHT" side of the parade, the Union should be in the "front-LEFT" position. Thus, as the Flag passed in review, from the observers' left-to-right, the Flag would appear to be "upright", flying "forward" (to the right), with the Union in the upper-RIGHT position. OOPS! Although NOT 100% A-OK, it would be the same kind of compromise as is made for Flag Patches made for the RIGHT shoulder of military uniforms (primarily the U.S. Army, I believe).


    #2 "DIRECTION"

    So, if we do NOT use WHO & WHERE the "observers" are to decide where the Flag's Union should be, then maybe we could use the "DIRECTION" that the Union would be heading in "most" (majority) of the parade's route or distance. We'll use the Flag Code's Section 7 (j) to help guide us.

    United States Code; Title 4; Chapter 1 (The Flag); Section 7 (Position and Manner of Display); sub-section (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." (Emphasis Added)

    While "our" parade Flag will be on the move in the "middle of a street" and NOT "suspended vertically" over the middle of a street, I think that we can still use PART of the provisions of this sub-section. Mainly, that the Flag's Union should point to the NORTH or to the EAST.

    Assuming that the Flag's Union is leading the way as the Flag proceeds along the parade route and the MAJORITY of the Parade's ROUTE is:

    East-West Street; EAST-bound: Union leading in the NORTH-East corner.
    East-West Street; WEST-bound: Union leading in the NORTH-West corner.
    North-South Street; NORTH-bound: Union leading in the North-EAST corner.
    North-South Street; SOUTH-bound: Union leading in the South-EAST corner.

    Everything should be "OK" as long as the parade route is on ONLY ONE street going in ONLY ONE direction.

    But what IF the parade changes directions two or more times along its route?

    Or what IF the parade's route isn't EXACTLY North, South, East, or West ???

    WHAT THEN ???

    Heck! I don't know!

    MAYBE..... ???

    United States Code; Title 4; Chapter 1 (The Flag); Section 7 (Position and Manner of Display); sub-section (o) : "When 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."


    SIGH.....

    So there you have it. A few things to take into consideration when discussing (debating) the "protocols" associated with carrying the American Flag "flat" or "horizontally" (above and parallel to the ground) in a parade. Just remember that when the Flag is carried in a parade in that position (flat), and no matter where the union is, the flag will always appear to be UPSIDE DOWN to approximately HALF of the "observers".


    SO..... Maybe it's just a few things to take into consideration the next time you're wondering why there's such a thing as : United States Code; Title 4; Chapter 1 (The Flag); Section 8 (Respect For Flag); sub-section (c.) "The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.".


    Or..... Maybe Not.....


    Robin Hickman
    .
     
  3. Mikemenn

    Mikemenn New Member

    Good lordy, that's a long answer: How to Write Succinctly

    In our Parade there were no more on one side of the street than the other. So that part of the equation doesn't factor in.

    The reason I was driven to find an answer was that when shown on the local TV station, the Union was at the "bottom" of the screen. We led with the Union on the right side of the marchers as were the TV camera. So on TV, the flag looked "upside down".

    I'm going to suggest next year that the Union lead (as it did this year) but turned over so it is on the left side of the marchers and will thus look "right side up" on camera.

    Thanks for taking the time for the attempt. The code needs to be updated.

    Mikemenn
     
  4. bsagptx

    bsagptx New Member

    You stated the flag code should be revised, just because others do it does not make it right. when carrying the flag in a hoizontal position it shows disrespect to those who have died serving our country. the flag should only be horizontal when draped over a coffen. also when you carry it this way, your holding all four sides and she."the Flag" is no longer FREE she is bind, restrain, and the US Flag should always flow Free.
    To show a flag in a parade have it on a staff and carry it. this can be done with more than one if you wish for all to carry.
     
  5. Mikemenn

    Mikemenn New Member

    Anytime you use the word "should" it's made up, fiction, just an idea people had and a lot adhere to.

    "She" is a piece of cloth that represents something. "She" represents a nation, a people, a freedom. She is not the thing that is honored, it's the people, the soldiers, the Americans that are honored.

    Someone in the past said, "let's not carry it horizontally and say that it's disrespectful" for this or that reason.

    So I'm saying as are our Scouts and leaders right now, today, "let's carry it horizontally because it's so big we can't do it otherwise and it'll still mean it's a symbol of our nation and people will still see it in the parade and still be patriotic and still think of our soldiers and our nation and still be proud to be Americans."

    Things mean what we want them to mean.
    You stick with living in the past. I'm choosing to live in the present. And we'll be the better nation for it.
     
  6. bsagptx

    bsagptx New Member

    As a Scout there is a book called "Our Flag" it's in all the scout shops and it shows scouts holding the flag horizontal and it states this is wrong. but thats the National Boy Scouts stand. anyone can do anything they want, show respect or Not.
     
  7. Mikemenn

    Mikemenn New Member

    We show the flag with utmost respect. It doesn't touch the ground, it's shown honor, we ask people to stand as it passes. Maybe you don't understand the size of this flag. It's impossible to carry in the vertical position in the parade. An averaged size flag that can be carried vertically, we would do it.

    Again, some men have said it's disrespectful. Some men don't see it's that way. It's not "right or wrong", it's custom. It's opinion. Obviously, it's getting your lather up so I suggest you let it go.
     
  8. bsagptx

    bsagptx New Member

    I do understand the size and thats my point. But some choose not to follow traditions. I will let it go. You can have your point of view and make changes that suites you.
     
  9. Mikemenn

    Mikemenn New Member

    I see you joined just today and that the extent of your posting is this 2 year old thread. I'm honored. :)
     
  10. NAVA1974

    NAVA1974 Active Member

    I don't have an opinion as to whether or not the Flag Code needs to be revised to accommodate carrying flags in that manner during parades, but I do know that one reason this was seen as disrespectful to the writers of the original Flag Code in 1923 was that it was common practice for men to throw their hats in the air in clebration, and/or toss their hats into the horizontal flag. THAT was seen as disrespectful because the flag was "being used as a receptacle" which was clearly prohibited by the Flag Code.

    Would that be a similar concern today? Since men do not universally wear hats as they did in the early 20th C it is clearly less of an issue now.

    What is the perception of a huge flag being paraded this way? Is it seen as "super patriotic?" Is it showing more honor to the flag than a single flag carried by the Color Guard? Does it get more attention than a single staffed USA flag among other flags? It certainly is much more conspicuous when viewed from above. But where are most observers? If there is no reviewing stand then parade watchers only see dozens of people holding the edge of the flag.

    This is one of those questions that will continue to generate discussion on this forum, no doubt.


    Nick A
    Columbia Maryland
     
  11. Mikemenn

    Mikemenn New Member

    Good points.
    And it is often done at baseball games, football games and in other places.
    No one throws their hats, even if they have them.
    We have a lot of observers in buildings as we pass as well as a camera crews mounted on buildings.
    My thinking is, if you can carry it vertical, do so. Otherwise, do what needs to be done to get the colors out there for all to salute and clap to!
     
  12. flagnazi

    flagnazi Member

    Robin: Thank you for your very thoughtful, researched, analyzed approach to this question. It is clear that things are not a simple as they seem and can you imagine how this question might be addressed in a revised Flag Code, or maybe not at all.
    As someone who likes to reference the flag code, and at times it seems that some folks are violating, "the unenforced Law/Code" (previous enlightening discussion), most are only trying to show respect to their country, their flag, their servicemen and their sacrifice and not intentionally trying to violate the "law". I would hate to squelch this, as I feel it is being lost. To me the dignity it is shown is what is important. If done slovenly, I would have some heartburn. And, of course, there are those, who also say we are not military and we don't have to be real formal. You can take that with a grain of salt.

    Mike D.
    Lava Hot Springs, ID 83246
     
  13. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Respect for the flag does not mean slavishly following an arbitrary set of rules. It means treating our national symbol in a way that that the average observer would interpret as respect for the nation that the flag represents. Obviously, perceptions change over time and depend on context. Take, for example, this 1898 print:

    Uncle Sam 1898 LC  sm.jpg

    Clearly, this was intended to be a patriotic picture of Uncle Sam holding a flag. However, the flag is dragging on the ground. In 1898, this was not considered to be inappropriate, while now it probably would be -- the flag code says that the flag should not touch the ground.

    Similarly, displaying the flag flat was not considered to be appropriate when the flag code was drafted in 1923, but it is now -- even the American Legion has said that there's nothing wrong with it as long as it's done respectfully. The flag code is out of date, and, ideally, it should be revised. As I've said elsewhere here in the forum, however, I think that trying to revise it would be a hopeless task, because it would become mired in political grandstanding.

    Peter Ansoff
     
  14. Sesquipedalian101

    Sesquipedalian101 New Member

    Personally, I see no major problem with carrying a *large* flag horizontally. I do think everyone is over-analyzing the situation. The field should lead (be first in the direction of travel). You've already established this. With this point of departure, here is my simple (albeit, loquaciously expressed) analysis:

    Follow the same "base" rule you would for displaying the flag against an indoor wall. The field should be to the "flag's own right" from the intended viewing perspective. Inside, the flag is intended to be viewed from the side NOT facing the wall; in horizontal transport, the flag is intended to be viewed from above. Yes, the people on the left will see it "upside down" -- to the same extent that someone standing on a dock and looking at the ripples on a lake may "feel the dock" move. That doesn't meant the dock is moving -- any more than the horizontal flag is "upside down."

    Mostly, when looking up the street, to watch the flag approach; or, down the street, to watch the flag depart, the audience perspective will be very similar to someone seeing a flag displayed vertically, against the wall at the head of a meeting hall. The extreme left side of the audience in a "wide" hall will have a perspective that makes the flag look "upside down" -- almost to the same extent that someone watching it pass on the street might view it that way. In the cosmic scheme of things, this is not a problem because the flag is NOT "upside down"; it is not "right side up"; the edges are neither "up" nor "down"; the flag is horizontal for Pete's sake! Put the field on the "flag's own right" from the intended viewing perspective.

    To think of it another way, if you were carrying a flag into the aforementioned meeting hall, with the purpose of hoisting it into a vertical position against the front wall, how would you carry it? With a large flag, you would want the hoist to go right up to the wall and get raised into position as the fly is "fed" from below. Again, you would transport the flag with the field on the "flag's own right" from the intended viewing perspective.

    When the flag is displayed in a window, you orient with respect to the intended audience. In a window, the intended audience would be the people viewing the flag from the *outside*; for a flag being carried horizontally, the audience would be the people viewing the flag from above. People inside of the building (in the case of the window) or laying supine on the street (in the case of horizontal carry), simply are not part of the intended audience. The flag is oriented so the hoist leads in the direction of travel and the field should be to the "flag's own right" from the intended viewing perspective.

    This way you get a simple rule; easy to follow; no angst about where spectators are located (because, for "perspective purposes," they are ALL considered to be "above" the flag, not to either side); and, should you realize that there were 10 more folks on the left side of the street than on the right, you don't have to take a second pass along the parade route.

    Finally, just in case I forgot to mention it, IMnsHO the rule boils down to this: you should orient the field so it is to the "flag's own right" from the intended viewing perspective. ;-)

    My $0.02 worth (and that's inflation).
    -101-
     
  15. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Good post, Sesquipedalian! If they ever do get around to revising the flag code, they should include the summary in your last sentence. That, plus some additional words about what to do when the flag is equally visible from both sides, would cover just about every possibility. I do think, however, that they should consider an exception for when the flag is displayed vertically, either against a wall or from a ceiling. In that scenario, the "canton on the viewer's left" rule becomes a problem when the flag is displayed beside other flags, especially those that have words on them (like many state flags do). Most such flags are one-sided, with the words reading correctly when the hoist is to the left, which means that they're "backwards" compared to the US flag when displayed vertically together.

    You're also right about over-analyzing. That seems to be a frequent problem when dealing with the flag code.
     

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