Archive for the ‘Questions on Flags’ Category

I’ve seen people in civilian clothes saluting, but I thought the rule was only the military saluted. Can a regular civilians salute the flag?
— Dwight Roland

Dear Mr. Roland:
      #1: Armed Services personnel in uniform salute the flag.
      #2: Regular citizens remove their hat, stand at attention, face the flag, and put their right hand over your heart.
That’s the norm in for what to do when the the US Flag is ‘in motion’ or when the US National Anthem is being played. But of course things aren’t always totally black and white.
       The Fine Print: Among the Armed Services there are practices confusing to those of us outside the military because it looks like some ‘civilians’ are saluting the flag.
* Veterans wearing civilian clothes are authorized to salute the flag (See press release). 
     * And other directives (e.g., Air Force directive (AFI 134 1201 Paragraph 2.17) — which I am told is the same in all branches of service) specify that active duty personnel when outdoors and wearing civilian clothes — may also salute the flag. It says:
“When the flag is displayed, all present except those in formation, should stand at attention facing the flag with their right hand over their heart. Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present, but not in uniform, may render the military salute.  All others should remove their hat with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart.  Individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the National Anthem and maintain that position until the last note.  When the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed.”
So the Armed Services have their own rules, but for us regular civilians … we should follow #2 above and we will be just fine.
– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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A question arose which many of us “believe” we know the answer however we unable to confirm. May and American flag, that has been draped over a casket for a burial, ever be flown again? Is it considered retired and should be kept as a memorial to our military family member?
— Bill

Dear Bill:
I don’t think there is a definite answer for this.
I was at a Protocol Conference late last week when I got your note and asked several people who I would call flag experts and did not get simple Yes / No answers ….
One said the the flag should be kept as a keepsake, boxed with the person’s ribbons and medals, and not flown again.
Another suggested it, but should be kept, but could flown on Memorial Day in honor of the individual and all who have fallen.
Another said it could be presented to an institution or Boy Scout troop and indeed flown again if the flag was something you didn’t want to keep. Or if the flag was no longer clean, in good repair or current, Scouts get  a merit badge for disposing of a flag correctly.
Maybe If I post the question I will get some more definitive answers … but I among those I asked was a former chief of Protocol for the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the Pentagon, and the flag expert from Canadian Heritage who makes Canadian flag policy.
What did your group say?
        – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

There was a complete mixture of opinions from totally retiring the flag and perhaps burning to gifting to family of the deceased and as you mentioned, to offering it to another service “group” for future use and respect. THANK YOU for your information and assistance. I am sharing your email with everyone right now.
       — Bill

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Is it improper for someone to put a little flag (appropriately displayed) on a civilian’s grave? … like the flags that are put on the military graves on Memorial Day?  We have a gentleman in our town that is questioning another citizen placing a flag on her husband’s grave.
— Anita Clarkson

Dear Ms. Clarkson:
The American flag is frequently seen the graves of veterans, so placed to honor their service.  But, anyone can put a small American flag on a grave if it is done correctly.
         – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am a retired (21 years) Navy Commander. I have a nautical flagpole – mast, jackstaff, and gaff – at the shoreline of my lake front residence (not a yacht club).  I wish to properly display U.S. flag, U.S. Navy flag, and other flags on this flag pole.  I understand the sequence of flag precedence.
However, the U.S. Flag Code sets out how a civilian should configure them and I know the U.S. Navy tradition is different.  My question to you is this: Am I now a civilian (and subject of the U.S. Flag Code) or still an officer in the (retired) Navy (and fly flags according to Navy’s tradition)?
— Tom in Texas

Dear Tom:
The design of flagpole design is the deciding factor
On ships there is a special tradition due to a ship’s flag staffs: A sailing ship’s sails made a flag flown at the top of the mast hard to see … thus displaying one’s national on a gaff-rigged staff (in the front of the ship for us non-sailors) became the tradition. The gaff-rigged staff is where one’s national flag is the most visible, BUT is actually lower that staffs elsewhere on the ship (such as the one atop a mast.)
If you have a nautical flagpole to display flags — thus replicating the display on a ship … like the one in the photo above …. following the naval ship-board practice is acceptable. Shore flags, signal flags, officer flags and even yacht club flags may be higher than the US flag technically.
Note that when the US flag flies on this nautical flagpole, no other flag flies on the same halyard with the US flag.
   Since you have a nautical flag pole … you can follow that display following the nautical style.
   But if you have a single straight staff … then the US Flag Code is the one to follow. On a single, vertical flag pole in Texas (including US Navy facilities) it would be incorrect to fly flags, top to bottom:
   Personal Flag    personal flag
US Flag                 
 national flag
Texas Flag          
  sub-national flag
  USN flag           organizational flag
On a single, vertical flag pole in Texas the correct order is, top to bottom:
  US Flag              national flag
Texas Flag      
   sub-national flag
USN flag          
  organizational flag
Personal Flag  
  personal flag
Even the positional flag of The President of the United States is not given status higher than a US flag. See the photo above of the US flag presented in the place of honor, the Presidents’ flag is presented in the subordinate position.
Internationally a personal flag is not flown above national colors. When it is flown it is generally flown alone. E.g., the personal colors of the Queen of the Netherlands flies over her palace … and never with Netherlandish Flag. See the photo above from the UK.  Just the Royal Standard, the positional flag of the Monarch, flies at Windsor Castle.
    – Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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I am planning my daughter, Alexis’, wedding and need your help. Alexis and Keith are being married in a local church, not on a military base. Is it appropriate to have the United States Flag hanging in the chapel during the ceremony?
— Michael Halpern

Dear Mr. Halpern,
The American flag can be flown anywhere … just fly it correctly.  Contact your local military district for instructions on how to fly a flag, check out on-line display guidelines or, even, call the Boy Scouts!

– Robert Hickey www.formsofaddress.info

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