The American flag is a symbol of freedom that is recognized around the world due to the beliefs and values it represents. This powerful symbol has been pledged, honored, and in some cases desecrated by many around the world because of what it stands for.
I have always loved and respected the American flag because I am thankful to be a citizen of the United States of American and the privileges that ensue citizenship. I created an eBook entitled “Flag Etiquette for Corporate Use” to help those in the corporate world understand and properly display this beautiful symbol of American freedom. Below are some of the thoughts from this book:
The Current Flag
The 50-star flag became the “Official flag of the United States” on July 4, 1960. Put into place by President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Executive Order number 10834, it was published on August 25, 1959.
The flag of the United States is comprised of 13 horizontal strips, alternating red and white. The strips represent the 13 original colonies. The Union of the flag is the blue field with the fifty white stars. The stars are symbolic of the 50 states.
Red was selected for courage, white for purity and blue for perseverance and justice.
The gold fringe that is sometimes seen on a flag is considered an honorable enrichment.
Whether the flag is hung vertically or horizontally, the Union of the flag is always in the top left.
Pledge of Allegiance
The Pledge of Allegiance may be recited in meetings and as part of events. The following are a few points to remember:
When the Pledge of Allegiance is recited, citizens should stand at attention and salute by placing the right hand over the heart with the first word and hold the salute through the last line of the Pledge.
Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute as specified by the uniform service.
The salute is directed to the flag by facing the flag during the Pledge. If there is no flag present, then the audience faces the front of the room and recites the pledge.
Men wearing a head cover (a hat or cap) are to remove it. If the head cover is part of the uniform, it does not need to be removed during the Pledge of Allegiance or the playing of the National Anthem.
Women may wear a head covering (unless it is a baseball cap, and then it needs to be removed).
The Pledge of Allegiance clearly states the foundation of our nation:
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”
The National Anthem
It was the valiant defense of Fort McHenry by American forces during the British attack on September 13, 1814, that inspired 35-year-old lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key to write the poem that was to become our national anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” In 1931 the Congress of The United States enacted legislation that made “The Star-Spangled Banner” the official national anthem.
The following link is a powerful video of the history of the Star Spangled Banner, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YaxGNQE5ZLA.
When the national anthem is played or sung, citizens should stand at attention and salute by placing the right hand over the heart at the first note and hold the salute through the last note. The salute is directed to the flag, if displayed; otherwise to the music.
If in uniform, the person should salute in the formal manner. It is proper to salute whenever the national anthem is played, whether in a public park, in a church, at a sports event, etc.
If you have international guests, they should stand and face the flag with their hands at their sides.
If you are at an international corporate event and the anthem of another country is to be played, allow it to be played first and the national anthem of the United States to be played after that. If there are several countries at an international corporate event, play the anthems in alphabetical order with the United States played last. Ex. In order: England, Spain, Venezuela then the United States.
Whether you recite the Pledge and the Anthem or just the Anthem, do the same for all countries involved.
The flag of the United States is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered. The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of the national anthem, whichever is the longest.
Respecting the Symbol
Without understanding the protocol associated with the proper display of the American flag, it is true that in trying to show respect for the flag, many individuals and corporations have in fact, shown disrespect.
There are no flag police…no enforcement that will fine or imprison people. But just like knowing proper business etiquette, proper flag etiquette also speaks about the professionalism of you and your company. If you disrespect the flag, it may be reflected as a general tone of lack of respect that you, personally and your company, professionally display.
I encourage you today to be thankful for the blessings God has bestowed on this great nation and the many sacrifices that have been given for the freedoms we enjoy today. Be generous as we freely give the love, grace, and mercy we are shown each day.
To get more information and join the South Carolina Christian Chamber of Commerce (SC-C3) movement, go to www.sc-c3.org and become a member today!
Cynthia Grosso is the founder and President of the Charleston School of Protocol and Etiquette, Inc. For more information, please visit: www.charlestonschoolofprotocol.com.