Before most sporting events, you will see a giant American flag unfurled across the playing field, or see a sky diver jump into a stadium with a flag in tow. These are traditions that military members have been a part of for many years.
That is, until now.
According to a memo from the Department of Defense (DOD) Public Affairs that was addressed to the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and National Guard PR departments on Feb. 10, military members will not be allowed to participate in any such event that shows disrespect for the American flag. This includes sporting events, community parades, etc.
"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
"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 not displayed during community outreach events," the memo reads. "Similarly, DoD jump teams may not incorporate the U.S. flag in their public demonstrations if the flag cannot be caught reliably and handled respectfully by ground personnel during landings."
I’m sure you might be thinking, “How are any of these displays disrespectful to the flag?”
The U.S. flag code prevents flags from being dragged on the ground or carried horizontally - with the lone exception for the latter category being on a soldier’s casket. So technically, these military members are expected to abide by these rules because according to code, it is disrespectful.
To be fair, this doesn’t mean that flags being unfurled at football games or being carried at local parades will stop altogether. But unfortunately, you won’t see any military members joining in the flag-bearing.