Position of Flags in Public Local Government Meetings

Discussion in 'US Flag Display' started by FlagAdvocate, Jan 12, 2016.

  1. FlagAdvocate

    FlagAdvocate Member

    In virtually every local government meeting/conference room where the public's business is conducted, on display (usually with floor pedestal staffs) are the U.S. flag, the State flag, and the local government flag, yet there is no consistency from one meeting room to another with regard to where in the room these flags are positioned.

    There is consistency, however, in the general arrangement of these public meeting/conference rooms. There is a head table, bench, or platform where the presiding governing body sits facing rows of chairs where the public audience is seated. There is usually adequate space behind, to either side of, or in front of, the seated governing body for flag placement.

    When one consults the U.S. Flag Code, Section 7, Position and Manner of Display, there dosen't seem to be a flag placement recommendation specific to meeting rooms where the public's business is conducted by a governing body. However, there are two Flag Code recommendations which provide some guidance when flags are displayed indoors from floor pedestal staffs:

    7(e) The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of States or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.

    7(k) When used on a speaker's platform, the flag, if displayed flat, should be displayed above and behind the speaker. When displayed from a staff in a church or public auditorium, the flag of the United states of America should hold the position of superior prominence, in advance of the audience, and in the position of honor at the clergyman's or speaker's right as he faces the audience. Any other flag so displayed should be placed on the left of the clergyman or speaker or to the right of the audience.

    Those who believe 7(e) is the advice to follow really have no guidance as to where to place a grouping of these flags. It is left to preference or custom or simply to the availability of space.

    7(k) which begins "when used on a speaker's platform" seems to provide more specific advice, but only in the setting of a church or a public auditorium. It could be argued that in the typical public meeting/conference room, the convening governing body's head table or bench is a speaker's platform, and since there is seating for an audience of the public, the room could be considered a public auditorium.

    This very issue is currently being discussed by officials in my locality, and I am considering what I may recommend if asked. I would like to know what those of you on this forum would recommend.
  2. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    It seems to me that 7(k) is the most reasonable guidance here. If there were only two flags, I'd put the US flag on the right of the head table and the other flag on the left. However, an arrangement like that would look unbalanced with three flags (presumably one in the right of the table on two on the left). In that case, my suggestion would be to put the three flags behind the head table, with the US, State and local government flags in that order from right to left of the persons seated at the table. That approach would conform to the general order of precedence specified in the code, and also provide a balanced and attractive arrangement.

    As discussed in other posts here, this particular section of the flag code has been through several rather confusing revisions since it was originally adopted in 1923. Fortunately, the current version is fairly straightforward.
  3. FlagAdvocate

    FlagAdvocate Member

    Lyco. Flags.jpg
    Peter, I've been meaning to get back to you to thank you for your recommendation which I passed on to the Lycoming County Commissioners. I received an email from Commissioner Tony Mussare in which he said: "Bill, elected officials should take the placement of flags more seriously than we do. I want to thank you for all the time you took to inform us and the embarrassment you saved us by placing our most valued symbol in the wrong position. Thank you!"

    Unfortunately, the Lycoming County Commissioners ultimately chose to not change the flag arrangement (as shown in the photo attached). The County Maintenance Director advised that the US flag should be "let in the middle as it is higher than the other two so it is in the dominate position".
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2018

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