HGTV viewers are expressing outrage after the network suggested they use American flags as table cloths for Fourth of July celebrations. Many viewers called it offensive, un-American and an insult to the American military.
"Using an American flag as a table cloth dishonors all Americans who love Old Glory – especially those who gave their lives defending it," one viewer wrote. "No one dies for a table cloth."
The HGTV website featured a segment titled, "Classic Fourth of July Table Setting Ideas."The photographs show bowls of fruit and a jar of lemonade sitting atop Old Glory. They called the flag an "unconventional table" linen.
"Drape a large American flag over the table as a bright and festive table runner," HGTV suggested. "Use a nylon flag so spills can be easily wiped off and the flag can later be hung with pride on a flag pole."
On Wednesday HGTV removed a link to the page and issued an apology.
"This was a regrettable use of our flag and it never should have happened," HGTV said in a statement to Fox News. "We sincerely apologize and have removed the post from our website. We want to assure our fans that HGTV is proud of the American flag and everything it symbolizes for our people."
Joe March, a spokesman for the American Legion, told Fox News that using the American flag as a table cloth is a violation of the U.S. Flag Code.
"The flag of the United States is designed to be flown and respected as the symbol of our country," he said. "That very same flag is used to cover the caskets of our soldiers, sailors and Marines who have been killed in battle. You would not obviously want to take that and use that as a table cloth."
The U.S. Flag Code states: "The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water or merchandise." It only allows for the American flag to be draped over a coffin – not a picnic table.
March said the U.S. Flag Code is simply a guideline and the law does not provide for penalties for violations.
"What we're talking about here is good common sense," he said.
Viewers took to social networking sites like Facebook to express their extreme displeasure with the holiday decorations.
"I cannot fathom why y'all would suggest something so disrespectful," one viewer wrote. "I am appalled that you would suggest using the flag that my brother was killed defending in Iraq as something to catch spills on a table at a cookout. I am positively appalled."
Other viewers called the decorations offensive, un-American and one younger viewer said it was a "total fail."
"When you use a flag in decorating remember that they are draped on the caskets (of our soldiers," wrote the parent of a U.S. Marine.
"You are disrespecting our flag," wrote another American. "What better thing to do over the holidays than desecrate the American flag."