Etiquette question.

Discussion in 'Other US Flag Etiquette' started by whatsthat, Sep 28, 2016.

  1. whatsthat

    whatsthat New Member

    Hi there! I was a prayer event today at our school. (The event was not school sanctioned.) There was a pastor who said a prayer. He had been holding a small, grocery store style flag in his hand. He set it on the ground to say his prayer - as he doesn't like to have anything in his hands while he prays. Granted, he could have done something else with it but it happened. Now he is getting blasted on social media. His intent was not maliciousness towards the flag in any way. He just didn't stop and think of what to do with the flag.

    My question is - did he do anything that would be considered in violation of any flag codes? Thank you!
  2. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hello, WhatsThat!

    Welcome to the USA-FLAG-Site Forum!

    Yes, he did violate the U.S. "Flag Code" (USC, Title 4, Chapter 1 - The Flag. & additionally Title 36, Chapter 10 - Patriotic Customs.), but all is NOT lost! The "Flag Code" is a set of guidelines and suggestions for us "civilians" on the protocols & etiquette for flying, displaying, handling, using, caring for, etc. our Nation's Flag. The Flag code is a set of "guidelines" in that almost every Section, sub-section, and paragraph contains the "operative" (directive) word, "SHOULD". "SHOULD" as in, "The Flag SHOULD always...", or "The Flag SHOULD never...". The "Flag Code" is a set of "Guidelines", NOT "Commandments".

    In the case that you've described, the Pastor placed the little "hand" (or "parade") Flag on the ground (or floor) so that his hands would be empty while leading a prayer. The "violation" in question would be referred to in Section 8(b): "The Flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise." Note the word, "should" that is part of the directive in Section 8(b).

    There are NO real enforcement provisions or penalties for "violations" listed in the Flag Code. So, other than not following the directive in Section 8(b), no law was broken and no penalty is possible. Well, no penalty other than "public opinion".

    All I can recommend at this point in time is to suggest that your Pastor publicly apologize for his inadvertent "violation" of the Flag Code, and then "let it go". Perhaps someone in your group could start a "Flag Code" Study Group so that more people can learn about, and become more aware of, the provisions in the code?

    You can find a copies of the "Flag Code" all over the internet. just "Google" the search term "Flag Code" (including the quotation marks) and pick one of the pages listed. I've visited two of them on a semi-regular basis: The Law School at Cornel University and US History (dot) Org. I'll include links to them below.

    Good Luck, and Thank you for bringing your "Flag" question to our forum! Please let us know how it all works out.

    Robin Hickman
    "Your Friendly Neighborhood Flag Man"
    Eugene, Oregon, USA.

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