Wear it proud: The flag as fashion statement

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“Australia needs moral support,” he said.

Before the games, American athletes were briefed on how to hold the flag should they win. The U.S. Olympic Committee pointed out a picture of swimmer Missy Franklin displaying the flag properly after winning the gold — right hand on stars, left hand on stripes.

Americans have rules outlining the proper way to show respect to the flag, and athletes, as ambassadors and representatives of their country, are expected to respect that and do it right. Under federal law, the flag is not dipped to any person or thing, for example.

“The [USOC takes] the ambassador program very seriously,” said Bill Mallon, a historian. “They try to avoid the ugly American image by doing proper things at the games and teaching [athletes] the right things to do.”

But fans at Olympic Park wearing the Stars and Stripes were doing so in joy and exuberance, honoring the flag in their own little way.

“It’s a way of celebrating all the things that your country is about,” said Mr. Pemmaraju, the University of California student. “I know America is not a perfect country … but it’s got me where I am. I’m proud to be an American.”

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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