There are particular rules of etiquette in America when it comes to displaying our flag–the U.S. Flag Code. However, sadly, some of our elected officials have either never heard of the code and just learning of its existence or, even worse, simply ignoring it.
One example occurred Wednesday, when Democrat State Rep. Karen May rode in a convertible in the Deerfield, IL, Independence Day Parade. Draped over the hood and trunk of May’s vehicle was the U.S. Flag. If May was a regular reader of Breitbart News or the thousands of other websites that picked up the story of U.S. Congresswoman Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL)’s own mishaps with the American Flag just one week earlier, May could have avoided this embarrassing mistake.
Photo: Steve Sadin
As pointed out in our coverage of Congresswoman Schakowsky’s parade vehicle (float), it is a violation of the U.S. Flag Code to drape the American Flag over the hood, top, sides, or the back of a vehicle. It is also a violation to display the American Flag on a parade float unless it is flying from a staff. It makes perfect sense that the flag should fly freely and wave in the wind, not be constrained and pinned or taped down.
While it is somewhat understandable that everyone wouldn’t have the entire flag code memorized, there are some simple rules that are common knowledge, such as never hanging another flag higher than Old Glory. But if you’re an elected official about to go marching in a parade, wouldn’t it behoove you to have at least one of your staffers check out the code before you go tacking it down to your car?
This certainly would have saved U.S. Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) a whole world of embarrassment. Breitbart News discovered her campaign float at Chicago’s Gay Pride Parade violated at least a half dozen rules, including hanging the rainbow LGBT flag over the U.S. Flag. The congresswoman later apologized profusely as I approached her for an interview regarding the Supreme Court decision over healthcare in Washington, D.C. last week. Ms. Schakowsky told me, “You wrote about the flag, right? We’re gonna get it right… we didn’t know that… it was a mistake… now we read the rules and we’re not gonna do that again.”
So did Congresswoman Schakowsky get it right on Independence Day?
Photo: Philip Downie
From the looks of her van in this photo taken at the Glenview, IL, Independence Day Parade, the Congresswoman and her staff did make a good effort to “get it right.” However, it still may not be exactly right. While this time, the flag is clearly flying from a staff on the right side of the vehicle, according to U.S. Code Title 36 Chapter 10 §175 (b), When the flag is displayed on a motorcar, the staff shall be fixed firmly to the chassis or clamped to the right fender.
In the photo, the flag’s staff appears to be attached to the vehicle frame or window on the right side, not the chassis or the fender. A small oversight, maybe, and clearly the congresswoman did intend to “get it right,” as she told me she would. And that is something she and all elected officials ought to do when they are marching with Old Glory. Nevertheless, as an elected official in the United States of America, this is something you should have no trouble doing perfectly.
As for State Rep. May, it may be time for herself and her staff to review the rules of how to properly treat our flag. Tacked down on the hood and trunk of a hot convertible under the beating sun on a 103 degree day is not giving the flag of our great country the respect it deserves, especially on the anniversary of her independence.