Letter to the Editor: Learn to Practice Better United States Flag Etiquette


Over the years, I have observed individuals and their etiquette toward our flag. I am a veteran and spent a year in South Vietnam from September 1968 through September 1969. I learned flag etiquette during basic training at Fort Lewis in April and May of 1968. I am a member of the Veterans Memorial Museum.

Some of the things that I have noticed appear to me to be either complete disrespect for our Star Spangled Banner or simply an ignorance concerning the etiquette that should be given to this beautiful flag of our country. When the Star Spangled Banner is played or sung, all individuals in attendance should stand at attention facing the flag and if active military or veterans they should salute. Most everyone else should place their right hand over their heart and, if wearing a hat, remove it with the right hand and place their right hand over their heart with the hat at their left shoulder. When the anthem is completed, everyone can return to their normal stance and carry on with their activity.

When at a meeting or class where the Pledge of Allegiance is being given, everyone should be standing at attention and facing the flag. Military personnel and veterans should salute the flag until the pledge is completed. Everyone else should place their right hand over their heart just like during the playing or singing of the National Anthem until the pledge is completed. When at a parade and the flag is being carried down the street, one should stand at attention and salute if you are active military or a veteran and all others should place their right hand over their heart and if wearing a hat it should be in the right hand at the left shoulder. In no case is it ever permissible to not place your right hand over your heart at the minimum.

After leaving the Army, I was rarely at any function where we pledged allegiance to the flag and seldom even attended anything where the Star Spangled Banner was performed. Then I began to sing and occasionally performed the Star Spangled Banner for audiences. It was then that I began to notice a lazy attitude toward the etiquette that I felt should be displayed toward our flag. I did not let it bother me then. Later, I began to go to sports events with the Mariners and Seahawks and really noticed a lack of respect for our flag and the etiquette it deserves. And then the kneeling instead of standing for the National Anthem caused me to get upset and even angry at times. Now, I think that the respect for our flag may be getting political with the disrespect mostly coming from the left. As far as they are concerned, there may not be any respect in their hearts for our flag, but all conservatives should be interested in observing the correct etiquette toward our beautiful Star Spangled Banner. I believe that when we see some of the disrespectful acts that take place, such as both hands behind the back, not facing the flag, moving around, or complete disregard for those that are trying to respect and pledge their allegiance to the flag, we need to advise those individuals of the correct etiquette concerning our flag.

For anyone with questions concerning etiquette toward our fabulous flag, please go to www.military.com and look up U.S. Flag Code. It will tell you lots of information including how to display your flag at home or your office.


Johnny Dunnagan