Position Of Flags Peaks Visitor Interest

Discussion in 'Flag Poles' started by FlagAdvocate, Aug 1, 2017.

  1. FlagAdvocate

    FlagAdvocate Member

    Sullivan County 1.jpg
    As I rode by the Sullivan County, Pennsylvania Courthouse recently, this flag display caught my eye so I parked my Harley and walked over for a closer look. What peaked my interest is the position of the flags. Normally, one should expect to see the US flag on its own right or to the viewer's left. When I approached, I discovered this is not just a typical Courthouse outdoor flag display. It is part of the Sullivan County Veterans Memorial attached to the public entrance to the Courthouse. It quickly became clear that this flag display is intended to be viewed from the opposite direction as the second photo shows.
    Sullian County 2.jpg
    As one approaches the public entrance to the Courthouse, the Sullivan County Veterans Memorial is accessed by walking down a few steps to see the commemorative plaque and service medallions (see last photo).
    Sullivan County 3.jpg
    While it is understandable why the flags are arranged as they are, a representative of the County who participated in the Memorial's design and construction mentioned that visitors have expressed questions and a few have actually switched the positions of the US and PA flags at night, most likely believing they were being helpful. This problem is an unintended consequence of a nobel community effort in appreciation of the sacrifices made by all who served and continue to serve. The County may be considering the development of a handout to explain to visitors why the flags are arranged as they are and to provide information about the Veterans Memorial. They may also look into a means to secure the flag pole halyards so that the flags are not able to be lowered (and switched) by unauthorized people.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
  2. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    To recap, we have a display of two flags on poles, visible from both sides. The question is which pole should fly the US flag. This particular situation is not covered in the flag code. However, one approach is to examine the principles that underlie the code, and see if we can extrapolate from them. Here are my thoughts on how one could do this for the Sullivan County situation.

    One of the obvious principles of the code is that the position of honor is on the flag’s own right. This applies both to the orientation of the union when the US flag is displayed flat, and to the location of the US flag when it is displayed alongside other flags. As I noted in another post recently, the original 1923 version of the flag code stated this principle explicitly and tied it back to the idea of precedence in heraldry.

    When a display (either a US flag displayed flat or a grouping of flags that includes the US flag) is visible from both sides, the “flag’s own right” principle is not helpful, because there is no consistent way to determine which direction is the flag’s own right. The flag code does not offer an explicit solution to the problem with groupings. However, it does indicate what to do when the US flag is hung flat, at least in the case of display in a lobby (Sec. 7(o)) or over a street (Sec 7(j)). In both cases, the code states that the union should be to the north or east, depending on the orientation of the streets or lobby entrances. It’s logical to assume that this would also to apply to US flags displayed in other venues when both sides are visible, e.g., hung from the ceiling of a sports arena.

    It seems reasonable to extrapolate from this that the “north or east honor point” principle should apply to groupings, whether the flags are displayed statically or on poles, when the display is viewable from both sides. This would indicate that the US flag should be to the north relative to the other flag(s) or pole(s), or to the east if the flags/poles are on an east-west line relative to each other.

    Obviously, there is still a judgment call on the meaning of “viewable from both sides.” In most cases, flag displays in front of buildings are assumed to be viewed by an observer standing in front of the building and facing it. However, the Sullivan County situation sounds like it is a bit unusual, and this might be a way to address it.
  3. FlagAdvocate

    FlagAdvocate Member

    Peter...thank you for your input and advice. The first photo above shows the western entrance to the Sullivan County Courthouse illuminated by the late afternoon sun. The two flag poles are aligned approximately in an east/west direction with the US flag west of the Commonwealth of PA flag. The "east honor point" as you described would place the US flag to the east of the PA flag, thus supporting the notion that the positions of these flags should be switched, resulting in a display one would expect to see when looking at the Courthouse and the flags from the main street where the photo was taken. I will get back in touch with the County representative I spoke to on the scene to encourage a review of this forum thread for his info and consideration.
  4. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hmmm... I can't get the attachments (2015, 2016, and 2017) to open. I think I'll see if I can let Brandon know about it.

  5. FlagAdvocate

    FlagAdvocate Member

    Robin....were you able to contact Brandon? I also am unable to get attachments to open on all threads posted before this site got hacked recently.

    Bill Jameson
  6. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hi, Bill!

    Yes, and No...

    Yes... Brandon responded to a couple of the most recent threads dealing with these problems down in the "Forum News and Announcements" Forum back on September 3rd, 2017. I haven't heard anything since then.

    No... The "problem" of NOT being able to open attachments inside of an entry has NOT been "fixed". At least not for me!

    On the other hand, I'm learning how to post photos directly into an entry!


    SEE ?

    Robin Hickman
  7. FlagAdvocate

    FlagAdvocate Member

    Robin, FYI, I have re-uploaded the photos that were lost when this site was hacked. See my original post above.
  8. One easy, though not cheap, solution may be to drop two more poles on the "street" side in the grass, in a geometrical box shape. Then, you'd have 4 flags in alternating form like this (from the street):

    PA US (Original flags)

    US PA (New Flags)

    (Hope that geometry sticks here!) Then, it'll be "Correct" from both sides and equally patriotic and eye-pleasing (if not more so).
    Don't ask me how to reconcile a viewer standing on our right!
  9. Robin Hickman

    Robin Hickman Well-Known Member

    Hi, Steve!

    The two additional poles (for a total of four) might be a viable solution to the viewer on the street "problem".

    I suppose they could move the Memorial Plaque and its accompanying flagpoles to the "back" side (180° from its current location) of the site's circular wall. With that "rotation", the two Flags could fly from their individual poles using the correct order of precedence.

    Or maybe the simplest "solution" might be to remove one of the flagpoles and fly both Flags, U.S. over Pennsylvania, on the remaining pole.

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


Share This Page