For two weeks in October, five students stood outside the ASB and Brigham Square courtyards counting students who stopped and students who continued walking during the flag ceremonies on campus. They found about 60 percent of students stopped for the length of the ceremony and the rest did not.
The ASB courtyard American flag is raised every morning at 7:30 a.m. and lowered every evening at 5:30 p.m. The national anthem plays throughout campus for the duration of each flag ceremony. According to federal law relating to displaying the flag, etiquette indicates that all should stop, face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over their heart until the flag is completely raised or lowered, or until the anthem has finished.
[media-credit name=”Elliott Miller” align=”alignright” width=”300″][/media-credit]Spencer Bunnell, a sophomore member of the Air Force ROTC, said the measurements the observers took were of people who were within sight of the flag and therefore knew what was happening but still did not stop despite those around them stopping.
“We feel that most people who do not stop do not know that it is the proper etiquette,” he said.
In an effort to raise awareness of flag etiquette and increase the number of students who respect it, Bunnell and four of his classmates manned a booth in the Wilkinson Student Center for two days. Curt Lockhart, Kaleo Roberts, Garrett Colwell and Dustin Woodbury asked passersby to fill out a short survey of their present understanding of on-campus flag ceremonies as well as proper flag etiquette.
Survey results showed that most people did not know about the flag being raised and lowered to begin with.
Curt Lockhart, a junior studying chemical engineering, said the group is trying to inspire social change for an assignment in their global leadership class. They were required to think of multiple issues, propose a detailed plan, then execute just one of them. He said though it started off as an assignment, his group quickly realized they all wanted to inspire people to show more respect for the flag.
“I feel flag etiquette helps promote patriotism and a sense of unity among citizens of this great nation,” Lockhart said in an email. “It helps bring people together who would otherwise have very differing views and opinions whether politically, religiously or socially.”
Most students responded positively and felt it is an area that deserves attention. Bunnell hopes to involve the ROTC program in educating students, since many students expressed genuine interest in learning about proper flag etiquette.
Students who filled out the survey received miniature American flags as a reminder of proper etiquette and as a way to spread the word about respecting the nation’s flag.