To Stand, or Not to Stand?

Is the flag code enforceable by law?


Payton Huckleberry | USA

Procedures surrounding the American Flag have long since been debated, recently the issue has arisen again, this time due to the uproar surrounding NFL Players’ protesting by kneeling during the National Anthem. Looking at some behaviors people of many different backgrounds and political affiliations, which of these can we actually consider to be “disrespectful?”


Kneeling for the Anthem

The subject of almost every flag-etiquette debate of today, kneeling, rather than standing, during the National Anthem is considered by many to be disrespectful. Whether they are disrespecting the Military, the “Freedom” the flag represents, or their government depends on the person one talks to. Are they really being disrespectful? One could argue that kneeling during the Anthem is peaceful, yet effective, way to protest. People who kneel are often very public supporters of our Nation’s military, yet they are being attacked with the notion that they kneel as an act of spite for our country. Rather, those who kneel are often supporting a resolution or change with how our country’s policing is carried out. Many feel that the police of today are overstepping their bounds and going too far with their use of force. Many also feel that this country’s race-relations need some change as well. As for if they are being disrespectful to the Military, ask any former veteran, most will tell you that even if they completely disagree with why people kneel, they fought so they could have that right, and most will not feel offended or personally attacked as some seem to believe. No, kneeling for the anthem is not disrespectful, but may offend some people.

Waving the Flag Upside Down

This one is easy, yes it is disrespectful, moving on.

Not so fast, it actually isn’t disrespectful at all. In fact, it’s in the Flag Code!

“Flying the American flag upside down is an officially recognized signal of distress. § 8(a)The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.”

Whether or not this country is in “dire distress” is relative and a matter of opinion. Many feel that because of all the issues America is facing at this very moment, the country is definitely in distress. This transcends race, religion, or political affiliation. Everyone should agree that there are some things that are very wrong with this country. No, flying the flag upside down is not disrespectful.

Burning the Flag

Flag Code states that those who would desecrate the flag in any way shall be fined and/or imprisoned. The Supreme Court, however, ruled otherwise. The landmark 1989 case of Texas v. Johnson declared that Flag Burning is protected under the First Amendment as symbolic speech. Offensive? Definitely. Disrespectful? Most Likely. Illegal? No.

Donning the Flag on Apparel

A popular way for many, typically young conservatives or “BBQ” dads, to show their support for their country and their pride in being an American. How could that possibly be disrespectful? Well, Flag Code states:

“The flag should never be used as wearing apparel…”

The Flag Code isn’t enforceable by law. There are no flag police. But it’s the official guideline for how people are supposed to treat the flag. One might think they’re being patriotic by wearing it on their shirt, but the Flag Code says it’s disrespectful. Popular culture will disagree, however, so wearing the flag on a shirt isn’t a big deal.

What have we Learned?

The Only way out of these four to be truly disrespectful to the country or its military is to desecrate the flag itself. Flag Code also states that wearing the flag as apparel is disrespectful, but many have a differing opinion. Kneeling for the flag and waving the flag upside down are not signs of disrespect or hatred for the country we all love. Rather, it’s a sign of love for our country, if one loves our country and wants it to be the greatest it can be, seeing something wrong and changing it is how one could show that. Whether or not you stand or kneel, just keep in mind one question. Why? Before you get offended or angry because of the people doing the opposite, ask yourself why they are doing it, and you might just realize you have the same viewpoint.


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