Definition Of "The Flag" In The U.S. Flag Code

Discussion in 'New Member Introductions' started by FlagAdvocate, Dec 31, 2013.

  1. FlagAdvocate

    FlagAdvocate Member

    As a new member of this forum, I have opened up many of the recent discussions pertaining to the U.S. Flag Code and what constitutes "the flag". To my surprise, I haven't found any discussion which seems to recognize that as with any Federal legislation, the key words are defined near the beginning of the legislative text. The Congressional definition of "the flag" is found in Section 3 of the United States Flag Code: "The words 'flag, standard, colors, or ensign', as used herein, shall include any flag, standard, colors, ensign, or any picture or representation of either, or of any part or parts of either, made of any substance or represented on any substance, of any size evidently purporting to be either of said flag, standard, colors, or ensign of the United States of America or a picture or a representation of either, upon which shall be shown the colors, the stars and the stripes, in any number of either thereof, or of any part or parts of either, by which the average person seeing the same without deliberation may believe the same to represent the flag, colors, standard, or ensign of the United States of America."

    The bottom line is "The flag" as used in the U.S. Flag Code is anything by which the average person seeing the same without deliberation may believe the same to represent the flag of the United States of America. Any comments?
     
  2. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    ...
    Hello, "FlagAdvocate", and welcome to the USA-FLAG-Site Forums!

    The entirety of Section 3 of the "Flag Code" is limited to "within the District of Columbia" and ONLY the District of Columbia, as dictated by the second phrase in the first sentence of Section 3 (ie."within the District of Columbia"). All areas of the United States of America outside of the District of Columbia are excluded from any and all provisions listed in Section 3 of the "Flag Code".

    Thank you for bringing your Flag-related question to our Forums!

    HAPPY NEW YEAR !!! :cool:


    Robin Hickman
    Eugene, Oregon, USA.
    ...
     
  3. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Greetings, FlagAdvocate, and Happy New Year!

    The paragraph that you quoted is not actually part of the flag code per se -- it is a separate piece of flag-related legislation that was adopted in 1947 and amended in 1968, and is currently codified as 4 USC 1 Sec. 3. The flag code itself comprises 4 USC 1 Secs. 5 through 10. Section 5 is the introduction to the flag code, and states that "The following codification of existing rules and customs . . ." is promulgated for use of non-Executive persons and organizations. Section 5 has its own definition of the flag (which has its own problems that have been discussed elsewhere in the forum).

    As Robin has already pointed out, 4 USC 1 Section 3 is applicable only in the District of Columbia. This section actually has a rather long history. In the early 20th century, the American Flag Association and other patriotic organizations spearheaded a movement to have the national and state governments adopt flag-protection legislation. The AMA drafted a model statute which was adopted by many of the states. At the time, the District of Columbia was governed directly by Congress (the Home Rule Act was not adopted until 1973), so Congress adopted the model statue for the District. The current version in the USC word-for-word is the same as the old model statue, except that a section dealing with flag desecration was deleted in 1968, probably to conform with the Supreme Court decisions on the subject.

    When the model statue was drafted, there was great concern about use of the flag in advertising, and the statue contained some rather draconian provisions that are still in the current law. Taken literally, it is illegal for a souvenir vendor in DC to sell a T-shirt, tote bag or coffee cup with a picture of the US flag on it. This is absurd, of course, and it's doubtful that the law would ever be enforced.

    The bottom line is that the definition in 4 USC 1 Section 3 is not part of the flag code. It's a separate law that is applicable only in the District of Columbia and would probably never be enforced there.
     
  4. FlagAdvocate

    FlagAdvocate Member

    Thank you Robin Hickman and Peter Ansoff for your thoughtful and considerate replies to my initial post. I joined this Forum to learn from those of you who have been exposed to issues about the flag and the Flag Code so that I can represent both factually and with a good understanding how various issues have been resolved. I am an old Vietnam era veteran (retired) often asked for advice about the proper and respectful display of the Stars & Stripes and related flag "respect" issues. In the early stages of my quest for information, I came across a website hosted by the Independence Hall Association in Philadelphia at Flag Rules and Regulations which has sections on the Flag Code and related topics. If you click on "Frequently Asked Questions" followed by a click on "Flags on T-shirts really flags?" it is the IHA position that the definition of "flag" in Section 3 does apply to the rest of the Flag Code. There is also a section in the IHA website called "Wall of Shame" in which this position is demonstrated with illustrations and photos. If you would like to invite the site administrator to the Forum, her name is Nancy Parsons Heller and she can be reached at
    iha@ushistory.org Again, thanks so much for responding to my initial post. I know I have a lot to learn and look forward to following the various Forum topics in the future.

    Bill Jameson
    Vet & Flag Advocate
     
  5. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

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    Hi, Bill!

    I wouldn't be too surprised if Nancy Parsons Heller was already a member here, although probably with a different name!

    I've been a member here for almost 5 years. Like most people who visit this site, I was looking for some answers to some Flag-related questions. I stayed because, among other reasons, this website provides forums for members to actually discuss Flag-related items of interest. Before visiting this site and subsequently becoming a member, I had a somewhat "average" knowledge regarding the American Flag (and others) and the associated protocols, etiquette, and other practices. I've been involved as an active participant and chairman of a community Flags Posting program for over 25 years. As a result, I became known as someone who is a kind of "Hands On" Flag Man who (supposedly) knew a little something about Flags in general and the U.S. Flag in particular.

    While I could answer most of the "general" questions, I did not have what I would call an adequate "depth of knowledge" about Flags. When someone asked a question that I did not have an answer for, I was willing to admit when I did not have an answer for them and the willingnes to go find one. I poked around a lot of different Flag-related websites looking for answers, including the "USHistory.org" website.

    Fortunately, for me and those people who relied on me to find the answers, I found THIS website. And for reasons that are sometimes beyond my knowledge, the many well-informed and well-spoken experts here always seem to answer my questions. Even my dumb questions! Somehow, along the way, I've managed to increase my knowledge of Flags to a degree that even when I do NOT know the answer to a question, I DO know where I can go find help in finding the answer. And that place is HERE.

    While I might have been willing to go visit "USHistory.org" four or five years ago to look for an answer to a Flag-related question, I am no longer willing to do so. Not anymore, anyway.

    Good Luck in your search for increased "Flag Knowledge"!


    Robin Hickman
    Eugene, Oregon, USA.
    ...
     
  6. FlagAdvocate

    FlagAdvocate Member

    Hi Robin,

    I recently took a look at the US Marine Corps Flag Manual https://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/MCO 10520.3.pdf and found something of interest. In Appendix B; Glossary of Terms:
    Flag of the United States
    "The term 'Flag of the United States' shall include any flag, standard, colors, ensign, or any picture or representation of either, of any part or parts of either, made of any substance or represented on any substance of any size evidently purporting to be either of said flag, standard, colors, or ensign of the United States of America, or a picture or a representation of either upon which shall be shown the colors, the stars and the stripes, in any number of either thereof, or of any part or parts of either, by which the average person seeing the same without deliberation may believe the same to represent the flag., standards, colors, or ensign of the United States of America".

    This is very similar to the wording that we believe only applies to the District of Colombia. I know this was discussed back in January of 2014, but I thought finding this in the USMC Flag Manual is interesting.
     

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