Elks Club: correct way to hang all SVC flags? HELP!

Discussion in 'Other US Flag Etiquette' started by paturner51, Jan 22, 2011.

  1. paturner51

    paturner51 New Member

    I have recently been going to a local Elks Club, and by the way, they are very patriotic and they are great Americans.

    This is my question: in a room at the Club all the service flags are there hanging from the ceiling. Now, I already know the precedence of the flags, i.e. Army first and so forth.

    The way they hang the flags is questionable in terms of precedence but we must understand how the flags are hung to begin with. The five flags are hung from the top center of a cathedral ceiling...there is one flag in the center, then two flags across from each other then the last two flags just below those across from each other. In other words, as you look at the flags from the bandstand across the room, they are in an upside down "V" is the best way I can explain it. the flags are pointing TOWARDS the bandstand and not just hung up horizontally on the wall.

    The Elks have the "Coast Guard" flag at the top center.

    My argument, of which I have no FORMAL SOURCE to rely on, is that the Army flag should have "precedence as it is the highest and then the other service flags, is this true? Then, where are the rest of the flags to reside as you look at the postings? Or if I use the regular precendence from the flag's right starting with the Army, is that correct (understanding that the third flag will be hung higher)?

    If anyone can advise me how these should hang, I would be most appreciative. I am a retired U S Army officer.
  2. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Greetings, Paturner51 -- welcome to the forum!

    Here are my thoughts on the Elks Club display that you describe:

    1. As you already know, the precedence of the service flags is Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard, in that order. This is laid out in DODD 1005.8 and also in the individual service regulations.

    2. Generally, military regs, the civilian "Flag Code" and international custom recognize three different positional relationships with respect to precedence: relative height, right-to-left, and front-to-rear (in the case of military formations, etc.)

    3. Although it's not explicitly stated, the height criterion seems to take precedence over the right-to-left criterion. For example, when two national flags are displayed together, it is not proper for one to be higher than the other, because that would imply that one is subordinate to the other. However, it is proper for them to be at the same height, with precedence given to the flag on the right. On the other hand, it is normal to fly a state flag under the US flag, because the state is subordinate to the nation.

    4. Given the above, I'd say that the best way to follow the intent of existing rules and customs would be: Army at the top, Marines and Navy in the second "row", and Air Force and Coast Guard in the third "row." This is still a bit awkward, because it could imply some kind of subordination for the higher flags over the lower ones. It would be much better if all the flags were at the same height, but this may be impossible for logistical reasons.

    5. It wasn't clear from your description whether the flags were visible from both sides. If so, the right/left relationships will be reversed when facing the display from one of the directions. A way to address this would be to follow the guidance in the civilian flag code, which says that the top of the flag should face north or east if it's visible from both sides. Using that reasoning, the Marine Corps and the Air Force flags should be to the north/east in the second and third rows, respectively.

    I hope this makes some sense. Obviously, it's situation that is not explicitly covered anywhere, but I think the above suggestions meet the spirit and intent of existing rules and customs.

    Best regards,

    Peter Ansoff
  3. paturner51

    paturner51 New Member

    Many thanks, Peter; you probably hit the mark on your answer. I am going to approach the Exalted Ruler but it looks like I will have to put my salesman's hat on first as I can't point to a specific law or clear regulation or protocol. But your observation is spot on. Many thanks.

  4. paturner51

    paturner51 New Member

    Mnay thanks Peter...your observations are almost EXACTLY what I believe although I needed some concurrence. It looks like I will have to see the Exalted Ruler at the Lodge and put on my best salesman's cap to convince him.

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