Monday, September 11, 2023

Our Flag, Patriotism, and Remembering

The other day I was at work a little late. That meant I left work later than usual. I work on a federal installation that is run mostly by the military. That means that every morning and every night the flag is raised and lowered. If you have ever spent much time on any military base you will know that for a few minutes each day, tribute is given to our nation and to its flag. Traffic stops, and the vehicle occupants sit quietly to pay respect. Where ever people are walking, they stop, face toward the main flag pole and salute or stand reverently with their hand over their heart. I experienced this for the millionth time that evening. While I was sitting in my car, I thought that nowhere else that I know of does everything stop to recognize and revere “Old Glory” and this great country. It made me proud to be an American! How many Americans really understand the meaning of this symbol of our liberties and freedom? How many Americans know how to treat this symbol? We are going to give you a brief lesson on how to treat the flag. Flag Etiquette and standards of respect The Flag Code, which formalizes and unifies the traditional ways in which we give respect to the flag, also contains specific instructions on how the flag is not to be used. They are: • The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing. It is flown upside down only as a distress signal. • The flag should not be used as a drapery, or for covering speakers, draping a platform, or for any decoration in general. Bunting of blue, white and red stripes is available for these purposes. The blue stripe of the bunting should be on the top. • The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose. It should not be embroidered, printed or otherwise impressed on such articles as cushions, handkerchiefs, napkins, boxes, or anything intended to be discarded after temporary use. Advertising signs should not be attached to the staff or halyard • The flag should not be used as part of a costume or athletic uniform, except that a flag patch may be used on the uniform of military personnel, fireman, policeman and members of patriotic organizations. • The flag should never have placed on it, or attached to it, any mark, insignia, letter, word, number, figure, or drawing of any kind. • The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything. When the flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. To store the flag it should be folded neatly and ceremoniously. The flag should be cleaned and mended when necessary. When a flag is so worn it is no longer fit to serve as a symbol of our country, it should be destroyed by burning in a dignified manner. Displaying the Flag Outdoors: When the flag is displayed from a staff projecting from a window, balcony, or a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff unless the flag is at half staff. When it is displayed from the same flagpole with another flag - of a state, community, society or Scout unit - the flag of the United States must always be at the top except that the church pennant may be flown above the flag during church services for Navy personnel when conducted by a Naval chaplain on a ship at sea. When the flag is displayed over a street, it should be hung vertically, with the union to the north or east. If the flag is suspended over a sidewalk, the flag's union should be farthest from the building. When flown with flags of states, communities, or societies on separate flag poles which are of the same height and in a straight line, the flag of the United States is always placed in the position of honor - to its own right. ..The other flags may be smaller but none may be larger. ..No other flag ever should be placed above it. ..The flag of the United States is always the first flag raised and the last to be lowered. When flown with the national banner of other countries, each flag must be displayed from a separate pole of the same height. Each flag should be the same size. They should be raised and lowered simultaneously. The flag of one nation may not be displayed above that of another nation. Raising and Lowering the Flag: The flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously. Ordinarily it should be displayed only between sunrise and sunset. It should be illuminated if displayed at night. The flag of the United States of America is saluted as it is hoisted and lowered. The salute is held until the flag is unsnapped from the halyard or through the last note of music, whichever is the longest. Displaying the Flag Indoors: When on display, the flag is accorded the place of honor, always positioned to its own right. Place it to the right of the speaker or staging area or sanctuary. Other flags should be to the left. The flag of the United States of America should be at the center and at the highest point of the group when a number of flags of states, localities, or societies are grouped for display. When one flag is used with the flag of the United States of America and the staffs are crossed, the flag of the United States is placed on its own right with its staff in front of the other flag. When displaying the flag against a wall, vertically or horizontally, the flag's union (stars) should be at the top, to the flag's own right, and to the observer's left. The Salute: To salute, all persons come to attention. Those in uniform give the appropriate formal salute. Citizens not in uniform salute by placing their right hand over the heart and men with head cover should remove it and hold it to left shoulder, hand over the heart. Members of organizations in formation salute upon command of the person in charge. The Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem: The pledge of allegiance should be rendered by standing at attention, facing the flag, and saluting. When the national anthem is played or sung, citizens should stand at attention and salute at the first note and hold the salute through the last note. The salute is directed to the flag, if displayed, otherwise to the music. The Flag in Mourning: To place the flag at half staff, hoist it to the peak for an instant and lower it to a position half way between the top and bottom of the staff. The flag is to be raised again to the peak for a moment before it is lowered. On Memorial Day the flag is displayed at half staff until noon and at full staff from noon to sunset. The flag is to be flown at half staff in mourning for designated, principal government leaders and upon presidential or gubernatorial order. When used to cover a casket, the flag should be placed with the union at the head and over the left shoulder. It should not be lowered into the grave. These are most of what you need to know. I also think that most people should know how to fold a flag properly but this won’t be covered here. Several years ago my wife taught me a great lesson. She was concerned about a faded, ragged flag being flown over a Wendy's restaurant. After several calls to the management and trying to convey her feelings over an appropriate symbol being flown, she got her desired results. They replaced the flag. Now, this is really not a rant against Wendy's restaurants, they are fine businesses. But this is typical of Americans not thinking, or maybe not caring, about our wonderful flag. We must be vigilant, but we must be diplomatic. Not everyone will harbor the same passion over this great symbol. The best thing is to be firm, but to try to teach patriotism. Remember, we are a melting pot. Not everyone who is a citizen has grown up being taught patriotism. Twenty-two years ago today I was working on an Air Force base. I, like many of you, watched in horror as war was brought to our glorious Republic. I’ll never forget how fast our aircraft got out of the sky. We were in the highest alert mode I’d ever been in other than an exercise. I also remember the patriotism as most Americans came together and grieved together. It is scandalous to me that even our political leaders felt we needed to go to war to take care of this problem, yet many of them changed their views and some even lied about what they had supported. Even worse to me, a veteran, is the fact that some politicians think that Washington DC had so much to do with the taking out of the mastermind of 9/11. I question anything that does not give credit where it is due. The US military has done many thankless acts in its long history but regardless of what has happened in Washington or in wars, they still give reverence to our symbol. Old glory. The grand old girl. Stars and stripes. I would hope that after twenty-two years we can still remember. This is a personal experience from my journal coming out of a particularly long few days of combat: “As the C-130 took off I was able to glance out the starboard door and I saw the buildings go by. I had a “Frances Scott Key” experience. As we roared down the runway toward safety, we were taking on fire. I saw that the field flag was still waving in the wind. That image of a strong USA and what that symbol means to so many is embedded in my soul. My Grandfather fought under that flag in WWI. My father fought under that flag in WW2. So that image out the door of that C130 is what I see when I think of or see Old Glory.” Please. Always remember! Remember 9-11! Remember Benghazi 2012! Semper Paratus Check 6 Burn

1 comment:

  1. I follow 4 USC for my home flagpole (properly lit at night) with one exception:

    "§10. Modification of rules and customs by President

    Any rule or custom pertaining to the display of the flag of the United States of America, set forth herein, may be altered, modified, or repealed, or additional rules with respect thereto may be prescribed, by the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, whenever he deems it to be appropriate or desirable; and any such alteration or additional rule shall be set forth in a proclamation."

    When I am told I must fly my flag at half-staff for the death of a British monarch, any foreign dignitary, or a Commie traitor politician... mine stays at full staff. It is at half-staff right now in honor of a Hartford cop that was killed in the line of duty.