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02 Jul

I saw a disturbing sight last week. It was an American flag that was faded, tattered and torn pretty much in half, yet was still on display on the deck of a house I passed by.  Now, I don’t question the owner’s patriotism in any way as most people who display the American flag are proud of our country and all our flag represents. Maybe the flag on display was from a relative who served our country and is no longer in this world and the owner wants to hang onto a memory. Or maybe funds to purchase a new flag are limited especially given the economy at the present time. I don’t know the story behind the flag that hung there that day and I don’t prejudge the owner in any way. But it still disturbed me enough to decide to make it the subject of this week’s blog.

I said I don’t question anyone’s patriotism behind displaying our national flag, but I do question whether people are aware of flag etiquette. For one thing, it is not respectful to display the American flag when it is faded, worn or torn. Yet, flags can be repaired as long as the dimensions of the flag are not distorted or noticeably altered. The flag should never be used as a drapery such as to cover a desk or for decoration (that’s what buntings are for).  Nor should it be used as an article of clothing. The flag should never touch the ground and should be folded properly when placed in storage. 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. This is just a sampling of do’s and don’ts I found on the Internet when it comes to flag etiquette.  There are various websites obviously that go into further detail.

But, according to, “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.” American Legion Posts and local governments often have facilities to dispose of flags that are unserviceable. Even local Scout troops can be contacted to inquire about this service. They must follow certain protocol such as stand at attention, salute the flag as it burns, recite the Pledge of Allegiance followed by a brief period of silent reflection. Once the flag is burned completely, the fire should be extinguished and ashes are to be buried.

So as you celebrate this 4th of July weekend, I suggest you start by looking at your own American flag to make sure it is displayed in good condition.  And then display it with pride in America.  If you don’t have one, it might just be time to purchase one!  Have a happy and safe 4th of July celebration wherever you are!

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Gramma Golden

Gramma Golden