Flag Rules: Time for Respect ... or an Update?

I like rules. Don’t you know, “rules help control the fun?” Yup, I’m that girl. But I also love me some rule breaking. That’s what rules are there for, right?

So I have a love-hate relationship with the American flag etiquette rules. On the one hand, I have the utmost respect for a flag that symbolizes all the things my husband is fighting for – a flag that so many have died to protect. Want me to turn on the water works? Sing the National Anthem, salute the flag and watch me bawl like a baby. I want to follow guidelines that support those feelings.

But traditional respect for the flag comes with some very strict rules and regulations – everything from how it is touched, handled and carried to the prohibition against wearing it on clothing or stamping it on almost anything else. And that last one – not displaying it on clothing – is kind of a kill joy. (BTW -- the rules do allow it as a patch on uniforms, so no worries there).

According to USFlag.org, flag etiquette includes this sticky point:

It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use.
But there is something weirdly respectful about going the untraditional flag-love route, ignoring the “don’t wear it” rule and tying on your stars and stripes bikini anyway. You aren’t wearing it because it’s cute – you wearing it because you want to proclaim through your actions “Woohoo! Yeah! The flag!” And what’s more American than that?

However, unless you plan to keep that bikini forever and ever and, when done with it, burn it in a ceremonial manner, you’re breaking a flag respect rule by wearing it. And your flag print beach towel, flag tote and my flag t-shirts are also big no-nos.

So what’s a rule loving girl to do? Follow flag rules and scowl deeply at those who don’t, or get those warm, fuzzy patriotic feelings by stamping it on every piece of clothing available?

Perhaps there is a line that makes Old Navy flag tshirts OK, but pulling a Katy Perry by wearing it as a dress uncool. But how do you find the line between respect and “Hellz yeah, America!” …? Is it time for a modern day flag etiquette update?

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