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21 May

I saw a disturbing sight in a neighborhood yard while driving last week. It was an American flag that was faded, tattered and torn pretty much in half, yet was still on display. 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. 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 blog.

I mentioned that 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 when it comes to flag etiquette and various websites obviously go into further detail.

According to http://www.usflag.org/flagetiquette.html, “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.

That brings us to the Pledge of Allegiance.  What exactly is it we are ‘pledging’? It means we promise our loyalty to the flag itself, our loyalty to our own state plus all the others in our nation, loyalty to the Government that unites us, recognizing we are ONE nation under God, that we can not or should not be divided or alone and that we are understanding of the right to Liberty and Justice that belongs to ALL of us.

The Pledge starts with loyalty to your flag…..so, show your loyalty and please get a new flag if yours needs to be properly retired! And then proudly display your patriotism and respect next week on Memorial Day!


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