Old Glory! Flying at Manzanar

August 30, 2014

It’s just a photo from World War II, the U.S. flag, flying against some California mountains.

It’s from Manzanar, the camp where Japanese Americans were detained during the war.

What words would be appropriate?

Dorothea Lange photo of the U.S. flag, flying at Manzanar, July 3, 1942.  Via Wikimedia.

Dorothea Lange photo of the U.S. flag, flying at Manzanar, July 3, 1942. Via Wikimedia. “Scene of barrack homes at this War Relocation Authority Center for evacuees of Japanese ancestry. A hot windstorm brings dust from the surrounding desert.” Public domain.

Many more than a thousand words there.


Nashville Scouts demonstrate proper flag folding

July 11, 2014

Of course you know how to fold a flag.  Right?

A group of Nashville Boy Scouts demonstrate for some Cub Scouts and a local news program, the proper methods.

Did they get it right?

Joshua Maxwell is a reporter with Nashville’s NBC affiliate, WSMV Channel 4; Scouts come from Troop 1914.

Published on Jul 2, 2014

My first on Air segment with WSMV Channel4. The Boy Scouts are teaching me and some Cub Scouts how to fold the American Flag.

More:


Why is the US flag displayed on the wrong side of basketball backboards?

March 16, 2014

Odd.

Watching the Big 10 Men’s Basketball tournament (Michigan vs. Michigan State) — it was the game that was on, my best chance short of internet to get news of PAC-12 and Mountain West conference results — and I looked at the backboard.

Someone thought college basketball needed to make a patriotic display beyond the usual hoo-haw, I suppose.  “Let’s put U.S. flag decals on the glass backboards.”  Nice little touch.  Every photograph of a ball going through the hoop, every shot of a fight for a rebound or to block a shot at the hoop, and there’s that little U.S. flag, reminding us of something.

In displaying the U.S. flag, the U.S. Flag Code notes that the flag should always be on its own right, or to the left of the audience facing it (See 4 U.S. Code § 7 (k)).

In that arena in Indianapolis, the flag is on the right.  Here’s a still photo from USA Today from an earlier game.

  Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports  Mar 14, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan Wolverines react as the Illinois Fighting Illini miss the potential winning shot at the buzzer in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Michigan defeats Illinois 65-64. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Caption of AP photo: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports Mar 14, 2014; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Michigan Wolverines react as the Illinois Fighting Illini miss the potential winning shot at the buzzer in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten college basketball tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Michigan defeats Illinois 65-64. Mandatory Credit: Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

Looking for an image of the Indianapolis backboard, I came across this image from the 2012 NBA finals.

Ball stuck in Game 5 of NBA finals between Miami and Oklahoma City; note flag decal on right. AP photo

AP caption: A ball is stuck between the backboard and basket during the first half of Game 5 of the NBA finals basketball series between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Miami Heat, Thursday, June 21, 2012, in Miami (AP Photo by Lynne Sladky) [Note flag decal on right.]

This error of flag display has been around for at least two years.  What’s up with that?

Those who advocate amending the Constitution to make it a crime to desecrate the flag probably don’t anticipate jailing the entire NCAA or NBA.  Maybe we should revise the flag code, to be more reasonable.

More:


Flying your U.S. flag for Utah’s statehood? Don’t make this error, and fly it backwards!

January 4, 2014

Last year I discovered Holly Munson’s write up from the Constitution Center about Utah’s perhaps odd path to statehood, certainly complementary to my reminder that you could fly your flags on January 4, to honor Utah’s statehood, under the U.S. Flag Code.  Munson’s piece was distributed on Yahoo! News.

Her report is very solid, even though brief.  Utah history is nothing if not a convoluted path to statehood through what amounted to a civil war, the Mexican War, the discovery of gold in California, the transcontinental railroads, mining and immigration, Indian wars, old west shootouts, rampant environmental destruction with sheep grazing and mineral extraction and smelting, union strife, astonishing agricultural applications, and a lot of books written from tens of thousands of Mormon pioneer journals — Mormonism appears to be impossible without ink and paper and time to write.

Go read her story.

What caught my eye was the George W. Reed photograph of the Salt Lake City Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints — the LDS, or Mormon church.  The Temple and the Tabernacle, also in the photo, both have their own unique architectural histories, and quirks that make them noteworthy purely from an architectural-historical view.  (This George W. Reed should not be confused with the Civil War Medal of Honor winner, George W. Reed)

Reed was an early photographer for newspapers in Salt Lake City, and he took some wonderful photos for posterity.  He was also a founder of the leading non-Mormon paper in the state, The Salt Lake Tribune.  At points in its history, it’s been known as an anti-Mormon paper.  The University of Utah’s library holds about five dozen of his photos in their collection, indexed electronically if not quite available yet; there Reed is described:

A pioneer in the development of Utah newspapers, George Reed was originally employed by the Deseret News and in 1871 helped in establishing the Salt Lake Tribune. His photographs include nineteenth century views of Salt Lake City, individuals at Reed’s Avenue home, Wasatch Resort in Little Cottonwood Canyon, and a photograph of the American flag hung on the Salt Lake Temple in 1896 to commemorate Utah’s statehood.

In the collection of Utah State University, in Logan, Reed has yet more papers.  There we get a bit more of his history:

A pioneer in Utah journalism, George W. Reed was born in London, England, on April 7, 1833. He emigrated to Utah in 1862 and became manager of the Deseret News, a position he held until 1871 when he founded the Salt Lake Tribune. In 1882, after a decade at the Tribune, Reed sold his interest in the paper to P. H. Lannan. He married Elizabeth Tuddenham in 1866 and passed away December 1, 1909.

U.S. flag on the Mormon Temple, at Utah statehood in 1896

The Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, draped with a U.S. flag in 1896, commemorating the completion of Utah’s statehood campaign when President Grover Cleveland declared Utah a member of the Union. Photo by George W. Reed; Reed worked for the Deseret News, and helped found the Salt Lake Tribune. I do not know whether this photo was published in either paper.  From the George W. Reed Collection, University of Utah Libraries.

Yes, you’re right!  That flag is backwards.  Well, it’s backwards according to the modern U.S. Flag Code, which specifies that when hung from a building, the flag’s union should always be in the viewer’s upper left corner (“northwest” corner were it a standard map).  In the photograph, the union is in the opposite corner.  No, we know the photo is not reversed, because it accurately portrays the location of the Tabernacle, to the west and slightly south of the Temple.

But we hear the protests:  The U.S. Flag Code did not exist in 1896!  How can that be a violation of a code that did not exist?

That’s right, too.

That is an indication that the traditions of flag display that some people get riled up about, that many people think we should amend the Constitution to protect, are new inventions more than old traditions.  Flag code violations are legion by well-meaning citizens celebrating the flag and patriotism, and rare by anyone with any malignant motives.

After a 49-year fight for statehood, through wars with the U.S., fighting with the U.S. forces in Mexico, the administrations of several presidents and 25 different U.S. Congresses, and pledges to change the rules of the church to ban polygamy and put that ban in the state constitution,  the people of Utah, especially the Mormon officials, were not trying to insult America by displaying the flag incorrectly.  Somebody said ‘fly the flag from the Temple,’ and some engineer or custodian got it done.  By 1896, most of the First Amendment litigation done in the U.S. had involved whether Mormons could keep their marriage policies (Mormons lost).  There was no intent to violate any rule of separation of church and state — nor would that be considered a violation today.  Churches may fly the nation’s flag with all the approval that suggests; it’s the government which may not fly a church’s flag.

Finally, there is no grand story in the flag’s being flown backwards.  It’s just one of those historical footnotes that mark the changing mores of the times, in this case, for standards of how to fly the U.S. flag.

Perhaps Utah history textbooks should make note of the day the U.S. flag was flown, backwards, to honor statehood.

More, and related resources:

Oh, yes! This is an encore post, too. We’re in the business of remembering history around here.


Flag at the Madison Building, Library of Congress, September 17, 2013

September 20, 2013

U.S. flag flies at half-staff at the Madison Building of the Library of Congress, September 17, 2013. Photo from  ‏@GayleOsterberg

U.S. flag flies at half-staff at the Madison Building of the Library of Congress, September 17, 2013. Photo from ‏@GayleOsterberg


Just stay quiet: Poster hoax about the Pledge of Allegiance

September 15, 2013

Anybody send this to you on Facebook (100 times, maybe?)

Hoax claims about the Pledge of Allegiance, found on Facebook and innumerable e-mails

Hoax claims about the Pledge of Allegiance, found on Facebook and innumerable e-mails

Clever, eh?  It repeats the McCarthy-era editing of the Pledge of Allegiance, and then comes up with this whopper:

. . . My generation grew up reciting this every morning in school, with my hand on my heart.  They no longer do that for fear of offending someone!

Let’s see how many Americans will re-post and not care about offending someone!

Not quite so long-lived as the Millard Fillmore Bathtub Hoax — which started in 1917 — but a lot more common these days.

Just as false.  Maybe more perniciously so.

Consider:

  1. Actually, 45 of our 50 states require the Pledge of Allegiance in public schools.  The five exceptions:  Iowa, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Vermont and Wyoming.  See any pattern there?
  2. None of the five states previously required the Pledge, and then stopped.
  3. None of the five states claim to not require the pledge in order to avoid offending anyone.  Oklahoma would be happy to offend people on such issues, most of the time.
  4. Reposting historically inaccurate claims, without fear of offending anyone, is no virtue.  It’s just silly.

The creator of that poster is probably well under the age of 50, and may have grown up with the hand-over-heart salute used after World War II.  That was not the original salute, and I’d imagine the author is wholly ignorant of the original and why it was changed.

Students pledging to the flag, 1899, 8th Division, Washington, D.C. Part of the Frances Benjamin Johnston 1890 - 1900 Washington, D.C., school survey.

Wikipedia image and caption: Students pledging to the flag, 1899, 8th Division, Washington, D.C. Part of the Frances Benjamin Johnston 1890 – 1900 Washington, D.C., school survey.

Wikipedia gives a concise history of the salute:

Swearing of the Pledge is accompanied by a salute. An early version of the salute, adopted in 1892, was known as the Bellamy salute. It started with the hand outstretched toward the flag, palm down, and ended with the palm up. Because of the similarity between the Bellamy salute and the Nazi salute, developed later, the United States Congress instituted the hand-over-the-heart gesture as the salute to be rendered by civilians during the Pledge of Allegiance and the national anthem in the United States, instead of the Bellamy salute. Removal of the Bellamy salute occurred on December 22, 1942, when Congress amended the Flag Code language first passed into law on June 22, 1942.

Students in an unnamed school in 1941, offering the Bellamy Salute for the Pledge of Allegiance.

Students in an unnamed school in 1941, offering the Bellamy Salute for the Pledge of Allegiance. Wikipedia image.

One might understand why the Bellamy Salute was changed, during war with Nazi Germany.

Arrogance and ignorance combine to form many different kinds of prejudices, all of them ugly.  The arrogant assumption that only “our generation” learned patriotism and that whatever goes on in schools today is not as good as it was “in our day,” regardless how many decades it’s been since the speaker was in a public school, compounds the ignorance of the fact that since 1980, forced patriotic exercises in schools have increased, not decreased.

Like much about our nation’s troubles, assumptions based on ignorance often are incorrect assumptions.  Consequently, they give rise to what is today clinically known as the Dunning Kruger Effect (or syndrome), so elegantly summed by by Bertrand Russell in the 1930s:

The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt.

Humorously summed up by “Kin” Hubbard:

It isn’t what we don’t know that gives us trouble, it’s what we know that ain’t so.

Ignorance is a terrible disease, but one easily cured, by reading.  We can hope.

More:


Best flying of a U.S. flag in a while

September 6, 2013

You’d forgotten there’s another war going on in South Sudan?

Location of South Sudan in Africa.

Location of South Sudan in Africa (darkened area). Wikipedia image

More:

Best flying of a U.S. flag: A woman carries a bag of food in Gumuruk where @WFP is assisting IDPs uprooted by violence.

Best flying of a U.S. flag: A woman carries a bag of food in Gumuruk where @WFP is assisting IDPs uprooted by violence.


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