Respect for U.S. basis of respect for flag
The U.S. flag means different things to different people. Because it represents the U.S.A., a person's opinion of the flag is most likely dependent on his opinion of this country.
Old Glory flew at Valley Forge, Yorktown, Gettysburg, Chateau Thierry, Midway, Normandy, Iwo Jima and every battle in-between and since.
The national colors were also present at Wounded Knee, Fort Delaware, Japanese-American internment camps and Abu Ghraib.ﾠ
The national flag has been with us, officially, since 1777, and represents our history, as well as our modern country. The stripes represent the 13 original colonies and the stars, the several states. The flag has evolved, like the country.
The flag can symbolize freedom, pride, love of country, strength and courage. Veterans are particularly protective of the flag and recall that soldiers carried the flag in battle and ships flew the colors while fighting at sea.
We have the freedom in America to burn our flag in protest. The founders considered dissent against the government one of the most important freedoms. In the First Amendment, they ordered that the government shall not restrict that freedom. The Supreme Court has ruled that burning of the flag is pure political speech and shall be protected. The flag has survived the protests and, even while being burned, remains a symbol of freedom.
In 1923, in order to standardize proper treatment of the flag, a group of 68 organizations, including the American Legion, drafted the National Flag Code, a set of rules regarding proper treatment and display of the flag. In 1942, Congress incorporated the rules into public law. The law is advisory and there are no penalties for violations.
Whether or not to adhere to the flag code is an individual decision, but lack of respect for the flag is often regarded as lack of respect for the U.S.A. and its history.
The flag code is common sense and decrees that Americans should treat their flag with respect.ﾠ If a person feels a sense of respect for the country and the flag, they will probably never be in serious breach of the code.
The entire flag code can be found online at www.usflag.org. The most important rules are found in section eight.
To stay out of trouble with the local Honor Guard, here are some important rules in a nutshell:
1. Only display the flag during daytime, unless you have it illuminated.
2. Do not let the flag touch the ground. If it does, brush off any dirt but don't burn it.
3. Keep the flag clean and in good condition. The flag can be washed.
4. Never use the flag for apparel, bedding or drapery. A flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations.
5. Do not mark or draw on the flag in any way.
6. The U.S. flag should always fly above other flags. When carried in a parade, the flag should always be on the marching right.
7. When displayed in an auditorium or church, the flag should be to the speakers right.
8. When displayed either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the blue union should be uppermost and to the observer's left.
9. When placed on a vehicle, the blue union should "lead the way" and placed toward the front of the vehicle. The blue "leads the way" on a soldier's shoulder patch, too. This placement creates confusion when people see the union to the right and think the flag is backwards.
10. When the flag is being raised or lowered, or passes in a parade, military and veterans should render a hand salute. All others should place their hand on their heart.
11. Dispose of worn and tattered flags by respectful burning. Old flags can be given to the American Legion for disposal in a ceremony which it conducts every Flag Day.ﾠ