The Pentagon reminded service members that they can’t participate in events where the U.S. flag could be desecrated, including having it trail behind parachute teams who glide into stadiums or helping hold a giant flag at large events.
“While many, including military members, view these displays as inspiring and patriotic … uniformed service members may not participate directly in the unfurling, holding, and/or carrying of giant, horizontal U.S. flags that are displayed during community outreach events,” the Department of Defense memo read.
“While many, including military members, view these displays as inspiring and patriotic, uniformed service members may not participate directly in the unfurling, holding and/or carrying of giant, horizontal U.S. flags that are displayed during community outreach events.” pic.twitter.com/C2ELUbxP0J
— Rachel S. Cohen (@rachelkaras) February 23, 2023
That included jump teams that use the Stars and Stripes in their routines “if the flag cannot be caught reliably and handled respectfully by ground personnel during landings.”
DoD told members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and National Guard that they need to abide by two codes — that the flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but “always aloft and free,” and that the flag should never touch anything beneath it, “such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.”
The memo was sent out right before the Super Bowl, but wasn’t made publicly reported until last week.
Ceremonies involving giant, field-sized American flags are a staple throughout the NFL and MLB seasons, and sometimes feature military members helping hold and wave the enormous flag during the singing of the national anthem.
The 2016 spring football game at the University of Tennessee featured Navy SEALs parachuting onto the field with an American flag in tow. The flag did lie on the ground for a few moments after the parachuter landed.
A Navy parachute jumper pulled off a similar maneuver at a game between the San Diego Padres and the San Francisco Giants in 2017.