Saturday, April 24, 2010

This post is funny, because I'm actually in another country right now.

I know a LOT about Flag Etiquette. It's kind of my job. And by kind of, I mean it actually is my job. I'm not sure why I said it like that.

I get calls all day every day with people asking me things like "Which side of the stage does the flag go on" and "can I leave my flag out all night" and "I think anybody who steals my flag from my front yard and burns it should be shot and YOU SHOULD PUT THAT IN YOUR PAMPHLET."

I love my job.

A few months ago, I had no idea how to properly retire a flag. Heck, I didn't even know private citizens can half staff their flags whenever they want to!

I know.

But don't worry, I am now the voice of Flag Authority. Ask me a question. I DARE YOU.

(and if I don't know the answer, I can always ask my boss.)

And since you are wondering, I will tell you one of the most frequently asked questions. Heck, I'll even throw in the official answer. YOU'RE WELCOME.

"I have an American flag, and a State flag, and another country's flag, and a company flag. Which order do I hang them in?"

Where do I even begin?

First, determine your audience. Which direction will most people be looking at the flags from? Is it in a room with a bunch of chairs facing a stage? Or is it outside, in between a building and a freeway? Once you figure out your audience, we can move on to The Phrase I Repeat 50 Million Times Per Day.

"The American flag is ALWAYS to the extreme Left of the audience."

So on that stage? It goes to the speaker's right. Because that is the audiences left.

In between the building and a busy Freeway? The Freeway is your audience, because more people will be looking from that direction.

Now for order. As you know, the American flag goes on the audience's left. Next, you can put either the State flag, or the International flag. That's up to you. And then your company flag goes to the extreme right.

Adding a POW flag to the mix? Stick that next to the American flag. Unless you don't want to. Really, that is up to you, and someone is going to get mad no matter where you put that one.

But should the American flag be higher than the others?

Well, it depends. If you take the International flag out of the mix, then sure. If you want. You can fly the other flags lower, or at the same height as the stars and stripes.

But if you are flying another Nations flag, you MUST fly it at the same height as the US flag. It cannot be flown lower than the US flag. It also cannot be flown higher. We're talking exactly the same height or you will get a million complaints from the concerned citizens of your community.

You see, no Nations flag can be flown higher than another Nations flag.

There is an exception to this. The Medal podium at the Olympics. When one country wins a gold, their flag is flown higher than the others during the medal ceremony, and their national anthem is played.

But that's it. At all other times, all Countries flags must be flown at the same height.

Now, here is something super important. What happens when you half staff the American flag?

Well, no flag can fly higher than the US flag**. So you half staff them all.

BUT WAIT. What about the foreign flag?

We do not have the authority to half staff that one. So you can either call the embassy for that country and ask permission to half staff their flag, or you can just take their flag down for the duration.

Most people just take it down.

Phew. See? complicated. I bet you're glad you asked.

**ok, this one has an exception, too. On UN soil, all of the Nations flags are flown at the same height as each other. And the UN flag flies above them all. But that's only ok because they are the UN, and they get to do whatever they want.


Unknown said...

That is soooo interesting! I knew that the American Flag is to be placed on the left of the stage but only because we have one in church and the Christian flag is on the right. But the rest...I had no idea!!
Thanks for teaching me something new today! :)

the thrifty ba said...

so what knowledge have you dumped out of your brain so that you can have this, ummm, interesting info ready?

Somerset said...

Dear Helena...I miss having your wit right across the hall...Thank goodness for blogs!

Adele said...

Very funny, hon! America has a completely different view on the importance of the Flag than any other country. Seriously, you should see the way the Brits react to the idea that you have to have 'permission' to do things with the flag. It's just a bit of cloth to them. Seriously. Different world.

~~Mia~~ said...

hmmm, we really don't hang flags in canada like you guys do. i'm always very intrigued by all the flags when i am in the usa :)

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