You are at a football game, the American flag is going up, everyone around you is standing up, with their right hand on the heart and singing the national anthem. Or, you’re at your kid’s school, watching 500 schools children and their parents loudly reciting the pledge of allegiance. You certainly don’t want to be the only exception. But there is a minor problem: You are not a U.S. citizen.
Should you salute the flag? Should you say the pledge of allegiance together with everyone else?
First let’s see what the law has to say. Yes, there is a federal law, The United States Flag Code, that governs the display and care of the American flag. However, the Flag Code doesn’t carry penalties for failure to comply with it; instead, it provides advisory rules and proper etiquette with regard to the flag.
During the ceremony of hoisting or lowering the flag or when the
flag is passing in a parade or in review, all persons present in
uniform should render the military salute. Members of the Armed
Forces and veterans who are present but not in uniform may render
the military salute. All other persons present should face the flag
and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart, or if
applicable, remove their headdress with their right hand and hold
it at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart. Citizens of
other countries present should stand at attention.
So the proper way for a non-citizen during a flag ceremony is to stand upright with arms at the side, looking at the flag, with no talking or bodily movements. Hats should also be removed unless there are religious reasons not to do so.
For the pledge of allegiance, my personal opinion is that a non-U.S. citizen should do the same: stand at attention. I don’t feel it is appropriate to recite the pledge, but if you do, I don’t think there will be any consequences either. Occasional reciting of the pledge of allegiance certainly doesn’t sound like false claim of U.S. citizenship, which can be a real problem during naturalization.
What do you think?
Here is the Pledge of Allegiance:
I pledge allegiance
to the Flag
of the United States of America
and to the Republic
for which it stands,
and justice for all