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U.S. flag bearer and Notre Dame alum Mariel Zagunis will face a historic decision at Friday’s Opening Ceremony when she chooses to either dip the American flag or let it stand tall as she passes British leaders.
There is no Olympic rule requiring countries to dip their flags, but many do so out of respect for their host country. The U.S. has repeatedly refused to do so referencing the U.S. Flag Code, which states that the flag should never be dipped to any person or thing.
The question on dipping the flag has been raised for over a century after legendary American shot-putter Ralph Rose refused to lower it in the 1908 London Olympics when he stated: “This flag dips for no earthly king.”
Reports on whether the flag was dipped in years following vary, but the flag-dipping controversy came to a head once again in the 1936 Berlin Olympics when the U.S. kept the flag erect, refusing to honor Hitler.
Zagunis, who was recently selected to lead the U.S. team into the ceremony, is now dipping her toes into to the long-debated flag issue.
Zagunis was reportedly unsure when asked if she would dip the flag, but Patrick Sandusky, a spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee, restated that no policy requires the athlete to do so, according to the New York Times.
If Zagunis decides to lower the stars and stripes she will be the first in nearly 80 years to do so.