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Here's what Pa. law says about respecting the flag, national anthem

Written by Joel Shannon/The York Daily Record | Sep 28, 2017 7:07 AM
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Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle and former Army Ranger Alejandro Villanueva (78) stands outside the tunnel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Chicago Bears. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

(Undated) -- Even if you didn't just a short time ago, you probably now have a strong opinion about how the flag and the national anthem should be observed at pro sports games.

In the midst of a feud between President Trump and a number of pro sports figures, the patriotic ritual has become politicized. 

Some sports figures say kneeling during the national anthem is a peaceful way to protest social injustice.

Trump has publicly criticized that position, saying the practice is disrespectful. Many fans agree, but some do not.

Pennsylvania pro sports teams like the Steelers and Penguins have made national headlines as the debate unfolds.

And while discussion has centered around patriotism and politics, the law in Pennsylvania has a few things to say on the subject.

A section on the Flag Salute and the Pledge of Allegiance says, "It is the responsibility of every citizen to show proper respect for his country and its flag."

The Pennsylvania Code also describes how students should learn about the flag, the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem.

Notably, "standing for The National Anthem" should be a topic in sixth grade and learning about the flag's role in "civil disobedience and in patriotic activities" should be a topic in 12th grade.

The U.S. code says citizens "should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart" during the national anthem, but does not say they "must" or "shall."

The code also lists nine ways of disrespecting the flag, including using the flag as clothing, using it in advertising and carrying it flat or horizontally. A similar list appears in the Pennsylvania Code.

Here are some relevant portions from the Pennsylvania Code:

§ 4.83, Academic Standards for Civics and Government and Economics and Geography and History:

  • In third grade, students should "acquire the knowledge and skills needed to ... Describe the purpose of the United States Flag, The Pledge of Allegiance and The National Anthem."
  • In the sixth grade, students should "acquire the knowledge and skills needed to ...  Describe the proper use, display and respect for the United States Flag and explain the significance of patriotic activities," including "Reciting The Pledge of  Allegiance" and "Standing for The National Anthem." 
  • In the ninth grade, students should "acquire the knowledge and skills needed to ...  Describe the procedures for proper uses, display and respect for the United States Flag as per the National Flag Code."
  • In the twelfth grade, students should "acquire the knowledge and skills needed to ... Analyze and interpret the role of the United States Flag in civil disobedience and in patriotic activities."

§ 12.10. Flag Salute and the Pledge of Allegiance:

  • "It is the responsibility of every citizen to show proper respect for his country and its flag."

Emily Havens of thespectrum.com contributed to this report.

This story is part of a partnership between WITF and the York Daily Record.

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