The 4th of July is quickly approaching, and you may be starting to finalize your plans for the day. Along with that means figuring out what you'll be doing, what you'll be eating, and what you'll be wearing. With the rise of American flag-themed clothing of all shapes and types, you may be wondering, should you wear the American flag as a cape?
It's a bit of a difficult question to answer, based on the availability of American flag clothing, paper products, accessories, and more. That being said, the U.S. Flag Code does have something to say about it. According to the code, as found on the Cornell University Legal Information Institute website, "the flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery." That's a fairly straightforward "no" on wearing the flag as a cape, but it's not as simple as it may seem.
According to the report, The United States Flag: Federal Law Related to Display and Associated Questions, the reason the Flag Code prohibits wearing the American flag is to, "limit the commercial or common usage of the flag and, thus, maintain its dignity." The report also noted, however, that the Flag Code is designed to be a set of general guidelines that are voluntary, not obligatory.
Basically, what that means, is that you likely won't get in trouble for wearing the flag as a cape on the 4th of July or any other day, but it doesn't really settle if you should wear it as a cape or not.
In an interview with ESPN, Olympic champion Jackie Joyner-Kersee said that, after winning a race, you "can't" drape yourself in a flag to celebrate your win, even though doing so in that moment is a sign of love, pride, and appreciation, and not intended to be disrespectful. Olympians have come under fire in the past for wrapping themselves in an American flag after their big win, with some saying that it's definitely disrespectful. Ultimately, like so much else, the American flag means different things to different Americans. Some feel that it's patriotic to wrap themselves in the flag, while others find it disrespectful at best or downright offensive at worst.
Although you technically shouldn't wear the American flag as a cape, it's not a strict, obligatory no-no. If American Olympians can't drape themselves in the flag of the country that they represent, however, you might want to take a beat and consider all the possible viewpoints before you do. There are plenty of other ways to be patriotic on the 4th of July.