Should non-citizens salute the flag and recite the pledge of allegiance?

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,
one Nation,
under God,
with liberty
and justice for all

15 thoughts on “Should non-citizens salute the flag and recite the pledge of allegiance?”

  1. Thanks for the article. It was really helpful to me as I’m not a citizen in the country Singapore. However, if I am a permanent resident(PR) in the country, is is encouraged to say the pledge and sing the national anthem? Thanks again for this helpful article. Now I know what to do.

  2. I feel this is wrong because the law states that if I am a natural U.S. citizen did the same in another country it is treason and I lose my U.S. citizenship. What is right is right if we can’t they shouldn’t have to.

  3. You should because you are in the us and you must go with our beliefs just as if we where in your country.

  4. I’m facing this issue soon. I’m Canadian and I’m going to be attending a camp in Texas where they say the pledge daily. Should I or should I not recite it. ps, I do know it.

  5. Thanks for this. I’m an adult who is active in the Boy Scouts, so there is a lot of Flag Raising and allegiance pledging going on. I’ve followed this guidance for the Pledge, but wasn’t clear on the flag saluting thing. I’m glad there is a specific piece of information (makes sense, since uniformed members from other countries are often present during flag ceremonies).

    As a Boy Scout leader, I’ve used my non-Pledge as a teachable moment. One of the values of the Boy scouts is patriotism. This allows the boys to discuss and think about what the Pledge means and who they are. I’ve never had anyone get upset or annoyed with me for not joining it, but there have been some moments where I spontaneously explained it to one person or another. The explanation that I am not a citizen is always met with a look of, “Oh yeah, of course. That makes sense.” I’m Canadian, so it is not always obvious that I’m not American.

  6. Unless the non citizen is pledging allegience to the flag of the United States they should not recite the pledge. I am a British subject and live in the US. I respect the US flag but I do not swear allegience to it. When the time comes that I become a naturalized citizen I will then recite the pledge.

  7. First of all standing for the flag is an embarrassing propaganda stunt.
    Is absolutely absurd to pledge allegiance to the flag because what you are really doing as blinds and pledging obedience to a government a socialist government that is and has absolutely nothing to do with the with the Endearment that people are supposed to feel.
    What it comes down to is this. Nobody should have to do it at all.

  8. When someone is saying the pledge over a loud speaker I say it aloud while standing with right hand over my heart. I am a U.S. born citizen and teacher. I see daily kids and other teachers not reciting but standing slovenly until it’s time to sit back down. We need to get back to etiquette in our expectations.

  9. Matthew Harrison.
    So when in the Middle East you’re going with their beliefs and you’ll wear a burqa and agree to become someone’s fourth spouse?

  10. Hell no, I’m not American. I don’t have to salute your flag, or hand over heart and why the hell would I pledge allegiance to a country not my own?

    Matthew Harrison
    JUNE 8, 2017 AT 12:19 PM
    You should because you are in the us and you must go with our beliefs just as if we where in your country.

    And Matthew is talking out his arse if he expects anyone else should do anything more than ‘just stand there’.

  11. Also funny that Matthew Harrison would use ‘our beliefs’.

    Clearly he doesn’t respect the First Ammendment:

    “Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

    I don’t *believe* America is my country, I owe it no pledge of loyalty. As a guest in that country, barring physical injury negating my ability to stand, I will stand and that’s all you’ll get out of me.

    I’ll accord the respect of standing, much as I’ll remain silent and not eat when a Christian family says grace.

    But your ‘beliefs’ are not my beliefs.

  12. I’m Canadian and went to school in the States. Whenever the pledge came up, I would leave the room and come back in when it was over. My teachers understood and didn’t mind my doing so.

  13. I live in the U.S. as a permanent resident. I always stand for your pledge as a respect to your flag. I do not recite the pledge as I am not a U.S. citizen.

  14. I’m a permanent resident in California. I’m British and have travelled all over Europe and Africa. The USA seems to almost like Russia and China in regards to pledging allegiance to the flag and singing the national anthem at every domestic sporting event.

    The national anthem is about a war with my country, so kind of awkward. I do stand but I don’t think I should have to sing or pledge any kind of oath. It seems a bit weird, bizarre even in a domestic setting but does make sense in an international event.

    As a British patriot, If I were to sing the anthem or pledge allegiance, it would feel like a minor treasonous act towards my own country.

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