Chances are, you have probably seen 300 pictures around this time of year like the one above (or you’ve posted one). It’s cute, it’s patriotic, and it’s probably going to get you a bunch of likes on Instagram. While you’re painstakingly trying to pick out a filter, you don’t realize that the act of draping the flag over yourself and taking the extra step to post it is disrespectful to the flag, and Totally against flag code. Since the United States is a living country, the flag is a living thing as well. Here’re five common flag etiquette mistakes you’re probably making:
1. Draping/Wearing the Flag According to the flag code, “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.” That means you should not in any way, shape, or form be wearing the American flag in my way.
2. Dipping the Flag
The very first rule of the flag etiquette is, “The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal.” Not only is the girl draping it over her body, but it’s lowered, and parts of the flag are nearly touching the ground. Not okay.
4. Using the Flag for Advertising
While there is nothing wrong with wanting to celebrate with a red, white, and blue themed table setting, there is something wrong with using articles that are meant to be thrown away like plates and napkins. Flag etiquette clearly states, “The flag should never be utilized 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.”
5. Using the Flag for a Costume
I saved the best for last because this is probably the most common disrespect to our flag. In fact, I was surprised when I read this one myself! The following rule of etiquette says,”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.” This means those Old Navy flag shirts we grew up with, American flag bikinis, and American flag Chubbies are NOT acceptable according to the flag code. If you want to get into the nitty gritty of it, even soldiers are only allowed to wear the flag, because they wear it backward.
While not of these breaches in etiquette are crimes (you’re not going to go to jail for wearing an American flag bikini), and there is no way these rules can be enforced, I think we should all take the time to ask ourselves two questions:
1. Is what I’m doing disrespectful to our flag and our country?
2. Is the flag gear I’m wearing disrespectful to our flag and our country?
If you answered yes to either of these, please do Old Glory a favor, and change.
*All images from Google Images