With the the approaching 4th of July I noticed more and more photographers and videographers incorporating the flag into portraiture. After viewing a few Instagram posts I really began to notice how many people were disrespecting the flag...Unknowingly or not. The latest image I viewed was of a model laying in the grass nude, the american flag delicately draped around her figure and the flag lying lifeless on the ground beneath it. I wasn't impressed...I was hurt.
Perfect time to discuss American flag etiquette with your children and a refresher for the grown-ups, too.
Here are the guidelines on American Flag etiquette from the U.S. State Department website.The Flag Code, which formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which we give respect to the flag, also contains specific instructions on how the flag is not to be used. They are:
- The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.
- The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering a speakers desk, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top.
- The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard
- The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations.
- The flag should never have placed on it, or attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind.
- The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
- Flag lapel pins may also be worn (they are considered replicas) and are worn near the heart.
- The flag should never have any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind placed on it or attached to it.
- The flag should never be stepped on.
- In a parade, the flag should not be draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle, railroad train, or boat. When the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.
- When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously.
- The flag should never touch anything beneath it. Contrary to an urban legend the flag code does not state that a flag that touches the ground should be burned. Instead, it is considered disrespectful to the flag and the flag in question should be moved in such a manner so it is not touching the ground.
The Freedom Flag
Dedra Campbell, Pulaski, Tennessee
In the classroom at his school,
A young boy spoke with such respect
“I pledge allegiance to the flag...”
These words to him had much effect.
His eyes upon these stars and stripes
Across his heart, his right hand lay.
Silent reverence filled the air.
A soldier he would be someday.
Every day for thirteen years,
He watched that flag, he knew her pledge.
He learned her history. He felt her strength.
To those who threatened her, he vowed revenge.
Then as a man, he signed his papers.
Packed his bags and hugged his mother.
He shook dad’s hand and off he went.
That flag was waving like no other.
Line ‘em up, nice and straight, Yes sir, no sir, and salute
Times were hard and he grew tired.
But then he’d look up to the sky,
And there she’d be-the flag he admired.
“A soldier I’ll make you!!” His captain would yell.
Push-ups he hated, but stronger he grew.
So down he would drop for fifty once more.
That flag still flying would get him through.
All too soon, those orders they came.
Off to war he was to go.
The time was now. He’d defend his flag.
He thought of heroes from long ago.
Blood was shed on foreign lands.
Others fought on common ground.
Lives were lost, he knew this well,
For this flag flown all around.
Death and destruction all seen in war,
He lost many men under enemy fire.
Through his grief he sought her out,
And then he would find her, his flag flying higher.
Then in a second his whole life changed.
It was bad, he knew, there was no pain.
But as he looked to rainy skies he smiled.
The flag above him caught the rain.
With final breath he bowed his head.
The sight of war too much to see,
He closed his eyes, began to pray.
Forever free please let them be.
Taps is playing in the rain.
Friends and family gather round.
Soldiers standing at attention,
Lift their guns up from the ground.
Shots are fired-a fierce reminder,
Of the price a hero paid.
They fold the flag providing cover
To the one who wasn’t afraid.
In the midst of all the sorrow,
A flag remains to fly.
A symbol of all those heroes
Who weren’t afraid to die.