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  • Flag Ceremony question

    Question about flag ceremonies, e.g., the one described at http://www.boyscouttrail.com/content...ening-1125.asp

    When it says "US Flag crosses in front of others" - I have understood that to mean the US flag is *in front* from the perspective of the audience. The troop flag's color guard would pause, and the US flag and its color guard proceeds forward, crosses in front, and moves to the speaker's right, audience's left.

    A Scouter friend of mine insists that "in front" is from the speaker's perspective, and says that the US flag should always be in full view of the audience.

    Opinions and/or resources on which one of us is correct? Does the US cross between the other flags and the speaker? Or between the other flags and the audience?

  • #2
    I believe your interpretation is correct. However, what I have seen over and over is that, without command, the bearer of the troop flag pauses so the bearer of the national colors may cross in front of the troop flag bearer on the way to the flag stand to the right of the speaker.
    Last edited by TAHAWK; 06-23-2014, 03:48 PM. Reason: kant type

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    • #3
      I've always assumed "in front" meant the same as if the flags were wall mounted on staffs. So "in front" means for me that if the flag bearers stopped dead center the audience would see the US Flag first then the troop/other flag beyond it.

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      • #4
        One rule of thumb I go with is whenever one is looking for the perspective of placement when it comes to flags, everything is from the perspective of the flag, not the speaker, not the audience, Everything is from the perspective of the flag. The flag enters the room to the right of a single other flag. If there are more than one other flag, the US flag precedes the other two/three. When it finishes its forward march through the room, the flag will need to "turn around" to present itself to the audience and get itself over on its own right side. In either case, all flags will either be behind or pause to allow the US flag the first opportunity of finding it's privileged position before any of the other flags move to their locations.

        If one is doing a ceremony and wishes to emphasize this, the flag(s) come down the center aisle with the US on the right (2 flags). Once they reach the foot of the aisle, the secondary flag stops and the US flag proceeds to it's place of honor on the right. The secondary flag then continues on to it's location. Technically speaking the US Flag should "post" last after all other flags are established. If there are three flags and the US Flag is out front of the other two, there is no need for any pausing or "crossing over" to get the US Flag from the right side of the processional to the right side of the room.

        One also needs to remember that the flag protocol for Scouting is NOT the military protocol, but the US Flag Code for civilians that is to be used. This Code has changed many times over the years, but it is best to be teaching the latest and greatest version available instead of some protocol that is being made up along the way. It is really annoying to hear all the interpretations out there that are flagrantly false. NO, the flag does NOT have to be folded into a triangle to be correct! And YES, one does NOT need to be a military veteran to have a flag placed on their coffin at their funeral. NO, the US Flag is NOT at the right end of the line unless it's just two flags, otherwise it's out front of all flags by itself in the MIDDLE distance of the flag line. And YES, boys who are NOT IN FULL UNIFORM are expected to show due respect by placing their hand over their heart rather than using the scout salute. Maybe there should be some way of showing half respect with a half salute when in half uniform. The list goes on and on.

        Stosh

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        • #5
          > the bearer of the troop flag pauses so the bearer of the national colors may cross in front of the troop flag bearer on the way to the flag stand to the right of the speaker.

          That's what I've seen and taught as well. If you have a color guard as well as a flag bearer, it would seem (in my friend's ceremony) that the US flag would have to pause so the secondary flag could go first, which hardly seems correct.

          I prefer having the US flag and the secondary flag in "single file" order so there's no need for anybody to pause or cross or anything. Much easier for the boys to get that right.

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          • #6
            I agree, Robertwilliams. Seems to me that the 'cross over' thing symbolizes starting out on the wrong sides and making the correction seem 'official' somehow. Why not just go directly to the right place in the first place?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by packsaddle View Post
              I agree, Robertwilliams. Seems to me that the 'cross over' thing symbolizes starting out on the wrong sides and making the correction seem 'official' somehow. Why not just go directly to the right place in the first place?
              The place of honor is either out front or on the right end. This is measured by the flag's own position. While entering the room it is on the right of a 2 flag color guard. It is on the right as it moves forward. However, once it reaches the foot of the aisle, it needs to "reverse" it's focus so that the color guard doesn't present to the wall the audience faces. If they simply stop and do an individual about-face, now the color guard will find itself with the US Flag on the left of the line. In order to do it smoothly, the could do a wheel to the left, but that would leave the secondary flag facing the wrong way. So, instead, the secondary flags stop and let the US Flag go to where it needs to be once the focus reverses and then the secondary flags do likewise.

              This is the same confusion the boys experience when one emphasizes the flag is on the right and then proceed to put the flag over in the left corner. The scouts are all thinking it's wrong from their perspective. I always use the illustration of walking from the back of the room with my right arm out and ask the boys if from MY perspective which way is to the right. Then I walk to the front of the room and turn around and of course the the direction reverse. So just let the boys know that YOU are the flag and it's YOUR right, not theirs that is important. This is why I never say to the right of the speaker when placing the flag. I always say to the flag's own right and that depends on which way the flag is presenting itself.

              Technically in a religious gathering, i.e. a church if the flag is all the way forward inside the railing of the altar area, the flag is NOT on the right of itself but defers it's position to the left of the religious flag, The symbolism meaning UNDER GOD and in the holiest place inside the railing it defers to the religious flag. However if the is OUTSIDE this alter area but on the raised portion of the floor it is on the left side, (its own right) presenting itself to the congregation. If there is no raised floor area it stands at the right side of the congregation, signifying it is standing with the people in reverence to the worship setting.

              The military has once such other protocol indicating this when it flies the US Flag UNDER the religious flag while services are being conducted on a naval ship at sea.

              Stosh

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              • #8
                Heh, heh, except on Tuesdays if it is the first or third week and an even number on the calendar.
                I think William of Ockham might have had a nice response to all that, lol.

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                • #9
                  Hey! I didn't make this stuff up. One has to be a federal bureaucrat to come up with this stuff! Some of the original language of the Code is quite revealing to the social norms of the era. Originally men did not put their hand over the heart unless they were wearing a hat. Then they did with the hat in that hand. Otherwise they just stood at attention. However, if it was raining they would "remove" their hat and simply hold it over their head to retain it's protective qualities while showing respect. People just aren't into the details anymore. Close is good 'nuff now-a-days.

                  Stosh

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                  • #10
                    BSA has a publication that I found helpful. I agree it is from the perspective of the flag--the flag is 'ascendant' not the viewers perspective. Main thing is to do what you do respectfully.

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                    • #11
                      I had to look this one up (the US flag can fly below or to left of a religious flag). This is what I found in the US Code (title 4, chapter 1, section 7, (c)). "No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for the personnel of the Navy." Only at sea, only by the navy, only during services (which is not quite what you said, Stosh). Don't you think this goes back to some tradition at sea on tall ships?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by MattR View Post
                        I had to look this one up (the US flag can fly below or to left of a religious flag). This is what I found in the US Code (title 4, chapter 1, section 7, (c)). "No other flag or pennant should be placed above or, if on the same level, to the right of the flag of the United States of America, except during church services conducted by naval chaplains at sea, when the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for the personnel of the Navy." Only at sea, only by the navy, only during services (which is not quite what you said, Stosh). Don't you think this goes back to some tradition at sea on tall ships?
                        "The military has once such other protocol indicating this when it flies the US Flag UNDER the religious flag while services are being conducted on a naval ship at sea." Okay, okay! "...Navy-al ship at sea..." I think the "tradition" lies in the fact that ships only have one "flag pole" from which to fly colors. That means they can only fly one same height flag at a time. One has to be under the other if two are flown and in order to maintain identification the US color has to show at all times.

                        Older sources of the US Flag Code had the issue of the church building placement more clearly defined. That may have changed in the past few years. I'm thinking that with the whole debate of church and state, the churches are simply taking them flags out and placing the religious flag on the right. According to modern interpretation, the flags have no business in the churches in the first place. I have no problem with getting rid of them.

                        Stosh

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                        • #13
                          You're probably right about the recent change. Subsection (k) looked hacked to me (more mention of churches for no real reason). It took me a bit to realize there are not supposed to be 48 stars. Trivia question: How long is there before the next star should be added after a state is added to the union? a) immediatley, b) one year, c) the next July 4th, d) the start of the next fiscal year. No Cheating, put those cell phones down.

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                          • #14
                            Better question: how to fit 51 stars in something that looks symmetrical?
                            Answer: get rid of Rhode Island and divide it between MA and CT.

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                            • #15
                              MattR: The next year 4 July AFTER the design is Okayed by the NatCEO.

                              Oh, and BTW, how do you "retrieve" the flag after the meeting/ceremony ? USF picked up first? Last? Lead the procession? Be last off the stage? Spot lit?

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