Protocol "Stuff" File

This page is a collection of hard-to-find miscellaneous, strange and unusual policies, practices, traditions, and the like that affect the business of protocol.  If you have something that fits this category of information and can document its basis, please send it to us and we'll include it.

Name tags or badges and name conventions
A frequent question arises as to the correct placement of name tags or badges.  Place them where they will work best; left or right.  While very little exits in print in this regard, one published source is The New Manners for the '90s by Letitia Baldrige which says (page 458-459) that they should be worn high up on the person's upper right shoulder because, in that position, names are most easily read by right-handed guests.  Names:  ditto on the lack of published guidance here, however, the same reference says that a name badge should contain the person's first and last name, and company name, if necessary, and that for company officials, the title should also appear.  Within the government and military, common forms are:  "LTC Tom Jones," and "Mr. Steve Smith," although name tags are sometimes prepared using just last names as in, "Maj. Gen. Reeves." It depends on your purpose and the crowd.  Wives:  there's disagreement on whether the spouse's first name or that of her husband should be used (see note below).  Traditionally, and for formal events the standard is the husband's name:  "Mrs. Robert Smith."  A fair number of folks, however, disagree with this method, particularly when the event is primarily for, or consists of only spouses where the preference is often "Mrs. Jane Smith."  Be aware though that, traditionally, this indicates that a woman is a widow.  Go with what the host and/or majority of ladies prefer and be consistent. (note:  while we prefer the term, "spouses" to "wives," in this case this problem is peculiar to wives rather than male spouses.  For them, it's not normally an issue because we would never refer to a husband as, "Mr. Karen Williams."

Passing of the flag - Army change of command ceremonies
Sometimes a change of command will take place in an organization that does not have an organizational or distinguishing flag or guidon.  What should be done for a flag in that case?  There's nothing that prohibits excluding the passing of the flag during the change of command, but it is such a long-standing custom, it might be difficult to convince others of this option.

Paragraph 4-2(e) of Army Regulation 840-10 (Flags, Guidons, Streamers, Tabards, and Automobile and Aircraft Plates) provides the answer. It says,

"The Army Field flag may be used for change-of-command ceremonies by flagbearing units not in receipt of their permanent colors at the time of activation. Provisional units, comparable to flag-bearing units, may also use the Army Field flag for change-of-command ceremonies only, but may not retain or display the flag permanently."

(thanks to SGM David Picciandra, Texas National Guard for bringing this to light)

Half-staffing the national colors when they are already at full staff
This is a fairly common occurrence. For example, during the day when the flag is flying and a directive is received to half-staff the national flag.  Is there a correct way to do this, and s it covered in any of the service's flag publications? 

The answers are (1) yes and (2) no.  We did fairly extensive research on this issue and did not find in any service publication a reference to the correct method for half-staff the flag when it is already at full staff.  The correct answer, as verified by the Command Sergeant Major of the Army Infantry Center (the Army's proponent for drill and ceremonies) at Fort Benning, Georgia, is that the flag, when at full staff, will be lowered directly to the half-staff position.  It should not be lowered to the ground first. (thanks to Selby Rollinson of the US Army Infantry Center protocol office)

Pinning a posthumous award on the next-of-kin or other family member
Army (paragraph 1-31f, AR 600-8-2) and Air Force (paragraph, AFMAN 36-2203) regulations permit pinning an award on the next-of-kin while the Navy, in SECNAV 1650.1G (Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual), does not (see Section 224, paragraph 3 on page 2-12).