Displaying the flag

Discussion in 'Other US Flag Etiquette' started by kellye1024, Sep 1, 2009.

  1. kellye1024

    kellye1024 New Member

    What exactly did it mean when the flag was hung upside down? I know I just saw it in a movie.
  2. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Hello, Kellye, welcome!

    What exactly did it mean when the flag was hung upside down? I know I just saw it in a movie.

    Well, it depends of the context of the movie. Traditionally, flying a flag upside down is a signal of distress. This is usually associated with flags on ships. It's not too clear how often this was really done; however, one of Alan Villiers' books about the Cape Horn sailing ships mentioned the practice (he was sailing on a Finnish-flagged ship, and commented that they could not use the flag to signal distress because the Finnish flag is the same rightside up and upside down).

    Since the 2008 presidential election, some Americans have been flying their US flags upside down because they think that the nation is "in distress." We've had some discussion here in the forum about whether this is an appropriate use of our national symbol.

    Upside-down flags also have other meanings on occasion. For example, the Philippines flies its national flag upside down in time of war.

    Peter Ansoff
  3. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hi, Kellye1024 ! :D

    Welcome to the USA-Flag-Site Forums !

    We can find the answer to your question in Section 8(a) of the United States Code Title 4 Chapter 1 — The Flag (AKA: "The Flag Code"), which reads :

    §8. 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.

    I don't know in which movie you saw the upside-down American Flag, but unfortunately in "real life" when you see one like that, it's usually because someone is mis-guidedly trying to make a political statement.

    SIGH..... :(

    Robin Hickman

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