Categorized | Bloom_Dan, USA

House Chamber should display horizontal flag

By Dan Bloom

Danny Bloom

Danny Bloom

CHIAYI CITY, Taiwan — I was born in America and I love America. But living overseas for over 20 years has shown me that America does not always get it right, in terms of international PR.

I watched President Barack Obama’s “State of the Union” address on TV CNN International here in Taiwan the other day, like millions of other viewers worldwide, and I found the  speech well-written and well-orated. President Obama has not lost his touch with the spoken word.

I was able to follow the speech along with the full text as printed here at San Diego Jewish World, and it made the speech even more intersting, using my iPhone screen for the text and looking up at the TV screen as well.

But I have a small proposal to make and I hope someone somewhere is listening. It’s this: the State of the Union address is given every four years with the American flag behind the president, in full view of worldwide TV audience, which grows bigger each year with social media and other platforms following the speech as well, including “live” tweets as the speech unfolds in real time.

One problem for me, as an American living overseas for over 20 years: the American flag is hung vertically behind the president — yes, vertically! — in a way that viewers from foreign countries might not understand. Why the flag is hung this way is a long story, and it’s partly due to the U.S. Flag Code and partly due to Congressional regulations.

But I feel that the American flag, on such a globally momentous occasion, should be hung against the wall behind the president in a horizontal position. This would be an important and positive international “optic” as they say in the PR business. Viewers in China, Japan, France and Italy, among the other 140 or so nations that get the SOTU speech via satellite and cable TV worldwide would “see” the American flag — “Old Glory” — as she was designed to be seen: horizontally.

So I am proposing with this quiet oped that in future years, the SOTU address given inside the Capitol position the American flag horizontally on the wall behind the president, whoever he or she is after Obama’s term is over.

I am proposing this mostly as a PR idea for the global viewership of the SOTU address, with the thinking that a good optic of an easy to see and easy to understand American flag for foreign viewers would end up being a positive PR achievement for America on the international scene.

Of course, to do this will take some doing, and it might take 20 years to see this happen. But you read it here first.

Notice that Japan never hangs its national flag in its Diet in a vertical way. Neither do Germany or Brazil or Sweden or India. So why does America hang Old Glory vertically behind the president during the SOTU address?

It’s lousy PR and lousy optics, and it’s an easy to fix issue. So I am typing these words and sending them to my editor in San Diego in the hope that they will land someday near the right eyes in Washington.

Put the flag right! Enough with this vertical thing. It does not show America at its best. and we do have a lot of PR work to do in regards to how we are “seen” by people in far away countries. My proposal is one way to correct a bad optic.

Bloom, based in Taiwan, is a freelance writer and inveterate web surfer.  Your comment may be posted in the space provided below or sent directly to the author at [email protected]

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