Protocol for the Thin Line Flag on a Casket

DrillMaster DrillCenter News 2 Comments

The Thin Blue Line and the Thin Red Line.

Hi there–I am a funeral director and have recently made funeral arrangements for a retired police officer. He is not a military veteran, but the family would like to drape his casket with the thin blue line flag (the black and white flag with the blue line representing police officers). I know with the American flag being draped on the casket, nothing can be placed on top of the flag (ex: flowers, medals, pictures, etc.) Would this etiquette still be followed for a police officer thin blue line flag? I just want to make sure I am following the correct protocol and do not want to upset anyone regardless if they were military, police, firemen, etc. Any advice would help!

Response

What a great question! And, I love the idea of draping the Thin Blue Line flag on the casket. Very appropriate. Let’s create protocol right now since there really isn’t anything written to govern the use of the Thin Line flags.

We know that nothing goes on top of the following flags that can be draped on a casket: American, tribal nation, state, city. The Thin Line Flags could be treated the same since the flags represent the first responder family. Out of respect for what the flag represents, just like the others previously mentioned, I would say no to placing anything on any flag. I’m quite sure you are aware of a small table placed near the casket that serves to hold a picture and military paraphernalia. For this officer, you could do the same.

The one thing that sticks in my mind is that the flag comes in 3′ x 5′, but an interment flag is 5′ x 9′. Are you going to use something else to make up the couple of feet at each end of the casket?

There is also the fact that the Thin Line Flags that are a version of the American flag, actually go against the Flag Code. Just FYI. I recommend the flag with the black background and the vertical blue line in the center.

I hope this answers your question adequately. Thank you for wanting to provide the very best for a fallen Thin Blue Line hero.

The Slippery Slope

There is a slippery slope here. Where does this end? As a friend of mine put it, do we have an apple flag for a fallen teacher (thanks, Glen!)? The American flag is for all members and veterans of the military. It is appropriate for first responders. What might even be more appropriate for first responders is the state, county, or city flag.  As I write and say all of the time, Education is key. Just like sounding Taps, there are standards to which we must adhere.   

Comments 2

  1. Not sure if this is a silly question but, in the case of a flag like the thin line, what would be the protocol for giving it back to the family, since there are no honors or flag folding? Is there a proper way at the end of the service?

    1. Post
      Author

      Not a silly question at all. My recommendation is to fold the flag and hand it to the next of kin after the ceremony. The Thin Line flags should not be presented as a replacement for the American flag.

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