Thursday, December 4, 2014

PGR Flag Holding Guidance

National PGR Flag Holding Guidance

There has been a lot of discussion around Patriot Guard Riders (PGR) flag holding protocol over the years and the Board of Directors (BoD) felt it would be prudent to provide PGR flag etiquette guidance for all of PGR when holding the flag in a Flag Line.

No member should be made to feel uncomfortable in any way regardless of how they are holding the flag so long as it is within the guide lines provided below.

The PGR is not a Military unit. We are a Civilian organization.

We represent everyday Americans, some Veterans and some are not, who wish to show grieving families the utmost respect for their sacrifice with the loss of their Hero family members.

The most important people at any service are the Family Members which we serve.
How they see PGR is our most important concern, not how we see ourselves.

So what is respect when holding the American flag?

Reviewing the U.S. Flag Code for civilians (Link to Document) there are three things we must not do:

1. Do not allow the flag to touch the ground
2. Do not hold the flag upside down or backward
3. Do not wear or drape the flag over oneself as if it is a garment

Yes, holding the flag upside down as a sign of immediate danger to life or limb is addressed in the Flag Code but as a sign of political distress is not and we are a non-political organization anyway.

How the flag is held by the majority of the Flag Line is the prerogative of the Ride Captain In Charge (RCIC). The Flag Code does not specify which hand to hold the flag in while standing in a static display and there are no Military wide regulations that state in which hand the flag should be held.

The Flag Code states the flag should be carried to the "marching right" or "marchers" right. Yes, if a unit of civilians is marching in a formation the flag should be carried by the bearer to the group's or marchers (plural) right.

The Flag Code also states flag pins 'should be" and flag patches "may be" worn on the individual's left nearest to the individual's heart. So one could say the flag belongs in the right hand as to the right of a group of one; or in the left hand nearest the individual's heart.

I have asked E-9's in all of the branches if either hand conveyed any disrespect to a military unit. Each assured it would not.

There is no guidance on holding the flag in a Flag Line. One can see many military units carrying the unit flag to the right of the group and the US flag is on the left shoulder of every American astronaut.

Holding the American flag at an angle or straight up: There is guidance that the flag should never be dipped "as in a salute" but in a static (holding the flag still) display there is no guidance. Generally holding the flag straight up and down makes it easier for others to pass but there is no guidance and there are literally millions of flags mounted on home flag poles at an angle.

From a Military perspective, it looks better to see everyone doing the same thing (standardization). So the RC may politely ask members to standardize flag holding. But if an individual cannot hold the flag in a particular hand or stand due to illness or injury... or just forgets, it is neither a sign of disrespect nor a notable offense. Just be glad they are in the Flag Line.

No one
, including the RCIC, is authorized to ask a Guest or PGR Member to leave a Mission because they held the flag in the wrong hand.

Finally, if Veteran desires to hold the flag in his left hand and salute with his right hand, that is his or her earned privilege. There are no regulations to state otherwise.

Bottom Line
  • No flags touching the ground.
  • No flags draped around a person.
  • No flags mounted upside down or backward.
  • No arguing about this or anything else on the Flag Line or during a mission.

     Any other flag guidance at a mission is a request for standardization, not a requirement.