What can fly on the same pole with the US Flag?

Discussion in 'US Flag Display' started by cgmiller, Dec 14, 2011.

  1. cgmiller

    cgmiller New Member

    Title 4, USA Flag Code, Par 7.f. says:

    "When flags of States, cities, or localities, or pennants of societies are flown on the same halyard with the flag of the United States, the latter should always be at the peak. When the flags are flown from adjacent staffs, the flag of the United States should be hoisted first and lowered last. No such flag or pennant may be placed above the flag of the United States or to the United States flag’s right."

    I take this to mean that only the listed flags may be flown on the same pole or halyard as the American flag. The POW Flag, McDonald's flag, Remembrance flag, or cocktails flag are not listed and cannot be flown unless from a second pole. However, the Boy Scouts flag, city's Historical Society flag, Army flag, or Save the Spotted Owl Society flags could be flown on the same pole or halyard as the US Flag based on the definition of "a society" in my dictionary.

    Has anyone seen an authoritative ruling on this?
     
  2. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    Greetings, CG -- welcome to the forum!

    I take this to mean that only the listed flags may be flown on the same pole or halyard as the American flag. The POW Flag, McDonald's flag, Remembrance flag, or cocktails flag are not listed and cannot be flown unless from a second pole. However, the Boy Scouts flag, city's Historical Society flag, Army flag, or Save the Spotted Owl Society flags could be flown on the same pole or halyard as the US Flag based on the definition of "a society" in my dictionary.

    I think that this is an overly restrictive reading. The intent of this sentence is to state that the US flag should be above a subordinate flag when they are flown on the same staff, not to enumerate the particular types of flags. This is in contrast to the following Paragraph (7g), which deals with national flags that are not subordinate to each other. Also, the code is not technically prescriptive; it is "a codification of existing rules and customs pertatining to the display and use of the flag." (Sec. 5). It is common to fly corporate or commemorative flags under the US flag, and I can't see any reason why this could be considered disrespectful.

    Has anyone seen an authoritative ruling on this?

    The flag code is not enforceable law, so there really aren't any "authoritative rulings" on it. Also, the code was never intended to cover every possible situation; it's just a commonsense guide.

    Peter Ansoff
     
  3. cgmiller

    cgmiller New Member

    Thanks for your thoughtful response Peter.

    In reverse order: The Senate web site has a copy of the US Flag Code with additional commentary on the code. I was hoping that something like that addressed the question of corporate and issue based flags being flown with the US Flag.

    I have a personal opinion that advertizing flags and entertainment flags do not belong on the same halyard with the US Flag. I do not approve of MacDonalds, Toyota, Joe's Massage Parlor, or the Chicken Ranch Bordello flying their flag with the US flag. I also don't trust them to make a wise decision on this issue. Unfortunately, even the strictest reading of the Code would allow a society with questionable values or goals to fly their flag with the US Flag.

    It is impossible to make rules or guidelines that cover all contingencies, and are always fair and correct.

    Unfortunately, the number of people that display the flag disrespectfully indicates that this is a minor point compared to flag like clothes and disposable items like flag napkins.
     
  4. Peter Ansoff

    Peter Ansoff USA Flag Site Admin

    I have a personal opinion that advertizing flags and entertainment flags do not belong on the same halyard with the US Flag. I do not approve of MacDonalds, Toyota, Joe's Massage Parlor, or the Chicken Ranch Bordello flying their flag with the US flag.

    In my opinion, there's a distinction to be made here. I don't see any objection to a business flying its corporate flag under the US flag -- it's saying that the business is a "corporate citizen" in the same way that a society or club would be. On the other hand, a flag that is blatantly promotional ("BIG, BIG CAR SALE TODAY!") strikes me as inappropriate.

    Unfortunately, even the strictest reading of the Code would allow a society with questionable values or goals to fly their flag with the US Flag.

    That's another issue altogether. It's tricky because not everyone has the same definition of "questionable values and goals." I'm not sure how one would word a flag-code provision to address that without running afoul of free-speech considerations.

    Peter A.
     

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