How to avoid American flag faux pas

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There are proper ways to display an American flag and dispose of one respectfully.

As we prepare for Flag Day next Monday, News4Jax is covering all of those bases to help you honor our nation’s most important symbol the right way.

This story will review a few relatively unknown rules about the use of images of Old Glory.

  • Before you print out your office newsletter, know you should never print a picture of the flag on anything meant to be thrown away.
  • An American flag should never be used in advertisements -- either in print or on television.

Never dip the American flag to any other flag. This grew out of what became a 100-year tradition of athletes at the Olympic Games dipping their flag to the host nation as a sign of respect. That doesn’t happen in the United States.

That tradition with Ralph Rose, an Irish-American shot putter we refused to dip the flag to the British monarch at the 1908 London games. The issue came up again during the 1936 games in Berlin with the U.S. asked a German-born gymnast named Al Joachim to carry the flag and he refused to lower it for Adolf Hitler.

In the 1940s, the U.S. Flag Code was modified to state “the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing.”

Look out for this detail during next month’s opening ceremony in Japan.

Another modern-day faux pas also involves sports.

Despite the Flag Code stating, “No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform,” the practice is widely accepted today.

The Chicago White Sox was the first team to put an American flag on its jersey. The team was added in 1917 to honor troops during World War I. These days, you’ll see them in just about every sport.

There is an exception to the rule when it comes to clothing.

For other, sometimes surprising dos and don’ts for displaying the American flag, visit

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