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June 14, 2011 7:19 am

EDITORIAL: Honor the flag with proper care

Written by Tessa Schweigert

The red, white and blue of Old Glory will be flown in communities around America in recognition of Flag Day today (Tuesday). While honoring the history, symbolism and significance of the flag, the annual holiday also is a good time to recognize how to properly care for the revered American symbol. (See the related flag guidelines.)

“Our flag is the mark of one country, one people, uniting under one banner,” said President Barack Obama in the Flag Day proclamation signed Friday.

President Woodrow Wilson first proclaimed June 14 as Flag Day in 1916. Since then, advances in modern manufacturing and publishing have made the Stars and Stripes ubiquitous — on T-shirts, coffee mugs, bumper stickers, beach towels, you name it.

Using the American flag for advertising is prohibited in the U.S. Flag Code, which also encourages restraining common or commercial usage of the symbol to maintain the flag’s dignity. The Flag Code states that the American flag “should not be embroidered on such articles as cushions or handkerchiefs and the like, printed or otherwise impressed on paper napkins or boxes or anything that is designed for temporary use and discard.”

While it’s important for Americans to show their patriotism, they also must remember the dignity of the flag, the sacrifices it represents and the significance of the symbol to America.

Too often, it’s a symbol that is tarnished or mistreated rather than revered.

As Morgan Tyree of Powell observed on his blog: “Once I found a soiled and tattered small flag that probably broke off from one of those ‘flag-decorated’ cars at a busy intersection in Gillette. It was laying on the side of the road with all the other litter that was mindlessly discarded from cars occupied by thoughtless drivers and their passengers. Where is the reverence in this scenario?”

The U.S. Flag Code serves as a guide to ensure proper respect for the flag, but its guidelines are not enforceable laws. No, “Flag Police” won’t issue citations, but disregard for Old Glory is not only in poor taste, it’s also offensive to many — especially to Americans who have served in the armed forces.

On Flag Day, it’s important to remember that proper care, honor and display of the American flag go a long way toward preserving its significance and the freedom it symbolizes.

How to fly the United States flag

1. The flag should be hoisted briskly and lowered ceremoniously.

2. The flag is never allowed to touch the ground or the floor.

3. When hanging over a sidewalk on a rope extending from a building to a pole, the union stars are always away from the building.

4. When vertically hung over the center of a street, the flag always has the union stars to the north on an east/west street and to the east on a north/south street.

5. 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 or localities or pennants of societies are grouped and displayed from staffs.

6. The flag should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds but always allows to fall free.

7. The flag should be displayed at half-staff until noon on Memorial Day then raised to the top of the staff.

8. Never fly the flag upside down except as a signal of distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.

9. The flag is never flown in inclement weather except when using an all-weather flag.

10. The flag can be flown everyday from sunrise to sunset and at night if illuminated properly.

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