The Pentagon has told service members that they are violating the U.S. Flag Code when carrying the U.S. flag horizontally at games and other public events. The Pentagon told its public affairs officers in a memo this month that the displays are no longer acceptable, according to Stars and Stripes.

“In recent years, some sporting events have asked military members to hold large, horizontal flags during events, and some military units have carried them in parades,” Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman, a DOD spokeswoman, told Stars and Stripes Monday. “While many, including service members, find these events moving and patriotic, according to the code, the flag should never touch the ground or be carried flat or horizontally.”

The new guidance prohibits uniformed service members from participating directly in the “unfurling, holding, and/or carrying of giant horizontal U.S. flags” and prohibits DOD jump teams from using the U.S. flag in demonstrations if it “cannot be caught reliably and handled respectfully by ground personnel” before touching the ground.

Army Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Jonathan Shaw