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Stand Tall, Or Bow To A King…What Would You Do?

This is a guest article in “The Huddle” series by Frank Agin:

The crowning spectacle of any Olympic Games is the opening ceremonies. No matter what Olympic sport of which you happen to be a fan (or even if you are a fan of no sport at all), this exhibition is captivating, entertaining and inspiring.

Traditionally, the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games is officially opened by the head of state of the host nation, such as a president, prime minister or even a king. From there nation after nation enters the stadium, each being led by an athlete representative that carries that country’s flag. As each country proceeds around the infield, when they pass where the head of state is seated, following tradition, the flag bearer dips the nation’s flag in deference to the host country’s lead dignitary.

Literally every nation follows this protocol – every nation but the United States. This exception to the tradition is considered tradition in and of itself and it relates back over 100 years to the 1908 London Games.

On July 14 at approximately 2:45 PM, with Austria leading the way, nations began to parade into London’s White City Stadium for the opening ceremonies of the 1908 Olympic Games. Eventually, the United States joined the procession, being led by 6’6”, 275 pound Ralph Rose as its flag bearer.

As the contingent of Americans marched before King Edward VII, to the outrage of the crowd, Rose did not lower the American flag as was custom. Although there is some debate as to just how much of an uproar this created amongst the British, one American’s response to the act was clear. Martin Sheridan, known as a burly, hot-tempered shot putter, emphatically stated, “This flag dips to no earthly king.”

As such, a tradition-bucking tradition was born. In the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games, the American delegation does not lower its flag. The American flag has remained high before kings, presidents and emperors. It has not dipped in great nations such as Canada, Germany and China.

No matter the dignitary and no matter the country, in the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games the Americans keep their flag standing tall with pride, confidence and optimism … proud of its past contribution to the world … confident of its place as a leader in global humanity … optimistic of its role in a great future.

You are no different than the American flag. You have every reason to stand tall in any situation, no matter who you encounter. And thus you should shy away from meeting no one.

Yes, there are people who have accomplished much – award-winning authors, note-worthy business professionals and civic leaders of every kind. Do not concede anything to them. Rather, stop, reflect, and take inventory of your own past. It is a proud one too – marked by wonderful milestones, accomplishments and achievements.

Yes, there are people who offer a great deal to society – architects of innovation, masters of a craft and commanders of loyal followers. Do not wilt in their presence. Rather have every confidence that no matter what you do, your contribution to society serves to make the world a better place – even if it is just in your little corner of it.

Yes, there are people whose crowning achievements are clearly ahead of them – future dignitaries, rising-corporate stars, and budding entrepreneur types. Nevertheless, do not back down from them. No matter how high their stock may rise, remember you should have every optimism that yours will rise too.

In short, no matter where you find yourself and no matter whose company you are in, believe that you belong. As such, stand tall, throw your shoulders back and offer yourself to those around you … but do not bow to any earthly king.


Frank Agin writes a monthly sports themed networking series for entitled “The Huddle“.  Frank is the founder and president of AmSpirit Business Connections and consults with individuals and businesses on how to become more successful through networking. He is the author of two sports related novels,  Out of the Comfort Zone., and his latest hit, Rival.




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13 Responses to Stand Tall, Or Bow To A King…What Would You Do?

  1. Rob February 25, 2009 at 3:54 pm #

    Interesting perspective. I see no wrong in acknowledging your host.

    Perhaps the sort of behaviour (notice the spelling) that makes people think that Americans are inward-looking, ignorant of the world around them, and arrogant….?

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