by J. Krim Bohren
The flag of our nation is described and specified at law.1 Yet today
more than one flag is in use in the United States-one is red, white and
blue, and the other is red, white, blue and GOLD.
In our history the national flag changed a number of times. On June 15,
1775, the Continental Congress appointed General Washington to take
"supreme command of the forces raised, and to be raised, in the defense
of American liberty." A battle flag for this force was subsequently
displayed on the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in
Philadelphia in July 1777. A resolution passed by the Continental
Congress on June 14, 1777 (Flag Day) describes the official national
Flag for the United States of America.
It had thirteen stripes and stars.2 A Flag with fifteen stripes and
stars, known as the 1795 Fort McHenry flag, was authorized by an Act of
Congress and was flown during the War of 1812. This flag inspired
Francis Scott Key to write "The Star-Spangled Banner." In March 1818 an
Act of Congress returned the Flag to thirteen stripes with 20 stars and
ordered the addition of one star for each new State, to take effect the
4th day of July following the admission of that State.
A gold fringed flag is a battle flag reserved to the General of the Army
for use over military headquarters and to display at courts-martial. The
Commander-In-Chief, as the civilian authority over a lawfully standing
national militia or Army, may designate that flag's use elsewhere. This
gives a president, when acting as Commander-In-Chief, power to place the
government's battle flag wherever he wishes to establish jurisdiction of
the military force.
In 1925, an interpretation of statute law by the Attorney General of the
United States clarified the intent and purpose of gold fringes or
adornments to the national Flag to be within the discretion of the
president as Commander-In-Chief. "Placing of fringe on national flag,
dimensions of flag, and arrangement of stars in the union are matters of
detail not controlled by statute, but are within the discretion of
President as Commander- In-Chief of Army and Navy." 3 Thus, a gold
fringed flag, often seen upon a staff or flagpole with a gold eagle atop
it, or with gold streamers or tassels, is NOT the lawful, or OFFICIAL,
Flag of our Nation.
A gold fringed flag used widely by courts, schools, service
organizations and private individuals is NOT a symbol of our
constitutional republic, or national Union of States. It signifies a
military jurisdictional presence.
One official difference between the two flags is that when the fringe is
placed around the Flag it denotes a military battle flag, not a national
Flag. Now the lawful status of a Citizen becomes important. For in a
military jurisdiction, where the court-martial tribunal displays the
fringed battle flag, it may impose criminal sanctions for issues
involving contracts, without due process of law. In a Judicial
Department court under the national Flag, as described in the
Constitution for the United States of America, as well as in State
Constitutions, due process must be observed and followed, with all the
protection of Constitutional Law.
The Founding Fathers, through the Constitution and the Bill of Rights,
secured the sovereignty of the States for WE THE PEOPLE. A flag of
bordered design, like the fringed battle flag, denotes that the
jurisdiction of the federal government is present. If the courtrooms in
your State display gold fringed flags, who is exercising jurisdiction?
1. Proper display of the Flag is covered in 36 USCS §§ 141 et seq.; 35
Am Jur 2d, Flag §§ 1, 7; 61 Stat. 642 (July 30, 1947) and; R.S. § 1792.
2. Congress of 1777, "...that the Flag of the United States be thirteen
stripes alternate red and white; that the union (a device emblematic of
any political union) be thirteen stars, white in a blue field,
representing a new constellation."
3. Interpretive Notes and Decisions, to 4 USCS § 1