Date: January 6, 2011
Confusion about US Flag Code raises questions
A Dauphin County business is expecting some international visitors next week. Phoenix Contact is a German-based industrial manufacturing company with 10,000 employees worldwide. To show respect to their visitors, the company hoisted a German flag in front of their building along Route 283.
abc27 received an e-mail from a concerned viewer questioning the height of the flags. Both the German and American flags are flying at the same height.
According to the U.S. Flag Code, "the flag of one nation may not be displayed above that of another nation." However, Phoenix Contact's American flag is on a much taller pole. In order for both flags to fly at the same height, the American flag needed to be lowered, which isn't allowed in the U.S. Flag Code.
"We weren't trying to cause any offense," said Molly McGowen, public relations director at Phoenix Contact. "We consulted the law before we did this."
The Flag Code states both countries flags need to be flown on the same size pole. But there does not appear to be an explanation for two different sized poles.
"I did see that myself but the way we had interpreted it is that they had to be the same height," McGowen said. "It would be an insult to the other country if one was higher than the other."
Pennsylvania American Legion adjutant Kit Watson said it is a gray area in the code.
"I can see where that would cause some controversy, and it's not really covered in the Flag Code, but it does say they are to be the same height," Watson said.
So, there appears to be a loophole.
"Ideally, what the company should do is go out and make the flag poles the same height and this wouldn't be an issue," Watson said. "So I can see where some people would have controversy with it, but I don't believe it is an issue."
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