Reminder: How to fly the flag on July 4 in 2014

July 4, 2014

Every kid should learn this stuff by third grade, but it’s clear from what we see that they don’t.

Flag flying in front of U.S. Capitol (East side) LOC photo

Flag flying at the eastern front of the U.S. Capitol. Library of Congress photo

So here’s a quick review of dos and don’ts for display and behavior toward the U.S. flag on this most flag-worthy of days, the 4th of July. With a few comments.

1. Fly your flag, from sunup to sundown. If you’re lucky enough to have a flagpole, run the flag up quickly. Retire it slowly at sunset. Then go see fireworks.

2. Display flags appropriately, if not flown from a staff. If suspended from a building or a wall, remember the blue field of stars should always be on the flag’s right — the “northwest corner” or left as you look at it. Do not display a flag flat, parallel to the ground.

3. Salute the flag as it opens the 4th of July parade. In a better world, there would be just one U.S. flag at the opening of the parade, and the entire crowd would rise as it passes them in a great patriotic, emotional wave — civilians with their hands over their hearts, hats off; people in uniform saluting appropriately with hats on. It’s likely that your local parade will not be so crisp. Other entries in the parade will have flags, and many will be displayed inappropriately. A true patriot might rise and salute each one — but that would look silly, perhaps even sillier than those sunshine patriots who display the flag inappropriately. Send them a nice letter this year, correcting their behavior. But don’t be obnoxious about it.

4. Do not display the flag from a car antenna, attached to a window of a car, or attached in the back of a truck. That’s against the Flag Code, which says a flag can only be displayed attached to the right front fender of a car, usually with a special attachment. This means that a lot of the National Guard entries in local parades will be wrongly done, according to the flag code. They defend the flag, and we should not make pests of ourselves about it. Write them a letter commending their patriotism. Enclose the Flag Code, and ask them to stick to it next time. Innocent children are watching.

5. Do not dishonor the flag by abusing it or throwing it on the ground. It’s become popular for a local merchant to buy a lot of little plastic flags and pass them out to parade goers. If there is an advertisement on the flag, that is another violation of the Flag Code. The flag should not be used for commercial purposes. I have, several times, found piles of these flags on the ground, dumped by tired people who were passing them out, or dumped by parade goers who didn’t want to carry the things home. It doesn’t matter if it’s printed on cheap plastic, and made in China — it is our nation’s flag anyway. Honor it. If it is worn, dispose of it soberly, solemnly, and properly.

That’s probably enough for today. When the Flag Desecration Amendment passes — if it ever does — those parade float makers, National Guard soldiers, and merchants, can all be jailed, perhaps. Or punished in other ways.  And wouldn’t that be silly and unproductive?

Until that time, our best hope is to review the rules, obey them, and set examples for others.

Have a wonderful 4th of July! Fly the flag. Read the Declaration of Independence out loud. Love your family, hug them, and feed them well. That’s part of the Pursuit of Happiness that this day honors. It is your right, your unalienable right. Use it wisely, often and well.

Happy birthday, Kathryn!

More, and Additional Resources:


Fly your flag on Valentine’s Day 2014? Okay in Oregon and Arizona

February 14, 2014

Some wag e-mailed to ask about flying the flag for Valentine’s Day.

Reverse of Oregon quarter

Oregon entered as the 33rd state in 1859 – this is the Oregon commemorative quarter-dollar coin.

Legally, nothing stops a resident from flying the U.S. flag following protocol on any day.  So the short answer is, yes, you may fly your U.S. flag on Valentine’s Day.

The Flag Code urges flying the flag on the day a state achieved statehood, too.

So for Oregon and Arizona, there is an expectation that residents will fly their flags.  Oregon came into the union on February 14, 1859; Arizona joined the Republic as a state in 1912.

Taft signs Arizona statehood papers, February 14, 1912

President William Howard Taft signed the papers accepting Arizona into statehood, on February 14, 1912. He still finished third behind Democrat Woodrow Wilson and Bullmoose Party’s Teddy Roosevelt in that fall’s elections. Photo found at Mrs. Convir’s page, Balboa Magnet School  (Can you identify others in the photo?  Who is the young man?)

For 2014, Oregon’s U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkeley posted an appropriate photo and meditation on Oregon at his Facebook site:

Jeff Merkley's caption:  Protected by President Teddy Roosevelt, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, formed in the caldera of Mount Mazama, a volcano that collapsed nearly 8000 years ago. It's a must-see for every Oregonian - and every American!

Jeff Merkley’s caption: Protected by President Teddy Roosevelt, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States, formed in the caldera of Mount Mazama, a volcano that collapsed nearly 8000 years ago. It’s a must-see for every Oregonian – and every American!

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Some of this material was borrowed, with express permission, from last year’s post at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.


Keep your flags clean and dry for September

September 4, 2013

Labor Day passed, so you can put your flags away until . . . what, Thanksgiving?

Not so fast, patriot!

U.S. Flag Code rules list specific days for flying the flag, and Constitution Day on September 17 is one of those dates.

Also, the Flag Code urges flying the U.S. flag on the anniversary of a state’s entering the union, in that state.  California’s statehood day is September 9 (next week!)

California flag

California flag flies on the same pole as the U.S. flag; photo from tumblr deepspaceromans.

Stay ready, patriots.

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April 30 – Fly flags for Louisiana Statehood

April 30, 2013

U.S. and Louisiana flags both should fly in Louisiana today.  Photo by Jack and Joann

U.S. and Louisiana flags both should fly in Louisiana today. Photo by Jack and Joann

Flags out in Louisiana today?  Under the U.S. Flag code, Louisianans (and anyone else so inclined) should fly their U.S. flags on April 30 in honor of Louisiana’s statehood, achieved on April 30, 1812.

On April 30, 1812, the United States admitted Louisiana as the 18th state into the Union. Louisiana was the first state to have a majority Catholic French- and Spanish-speaking population, reflecting its origins as a colony under France from 1699-1763 and Spain from 1763-1803. Following the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, Louisiana’s road to statehood was not all smooth. Federal law required citizens of a newly admitted territory to apply to congress for statehood, and the admission of the Orleans Territory as the 18th state followed years of lobbying efforts by prominent citizens—both American and Creole (French-speaking Catholics). Men such as French-born congressman Julien Poydras and American attorney Edward Livingston sought the greater political rights that statehood bestowed and convinced Territorial Governor William C.C. Claiborne that the Orleans Territory qualified for statehood. Finally in 1811, Democratic President James Madison signed the bill allowing the people of Louisiana to form a state constitution. Following the state constitutional convention in New Orleans where 43 American and Creole leaders convened, on April 14, 1812, President Madison signed the bill approving statehood. The bill designated April 30, 1812, as the day of formal admission.

Seriously, where would the U.S. be without the stories of Huey Long, and without Tobasco Sauce?

More:

Map of the states and territories of the Unite...

Map of the states and territories of the United States as it was from April 1812 to May 1812. On April 30 1812, most of Orleans Territory was admitted as the state of Louisiana. On May 12 1812, the federal government assigned its annexed land of West Florida to Mississippi Territory. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From the U.S. National Archives: Joint Credentials for the State of Louisiana's First Senators, September 3, 1812

From the U.S. National Archives: Joint Credentials for the State of Louisiana’s First Senators, September 3, 1812 On September 3, 1812 Louisiana’s legislature elected Jean Noel Destréhan and Allan Bowie Magruder to serve as the new state’s first U.S. Senators. Destréhan resigned before being seated and was replaced by Thomas Posey. RG 46, Records of the U.S. Senate


Fly your flag on Valentine’s Day? Okay in Oregon and Arizona

February 14, 2013

Some wag e-mailed to ask about flying the flag for Valentine’s Day.

Reverse of Oregon quarter

Oregon entered as the 33rd state in 1859 – this is the Oregon commemorative quarter-dollar coin.

Legally, nothing stops a resident from flying the U.S. flag following protocol on any day.  So the short answer is, yes, you may fly your U.S. flag on Valentine’s Day.

The Flag Code urges flying the flag on the day a state achieved statehood, too.

So for Oregon and Arizona, there is an expectation that residents will fly their flags.  Oregon came into the union on February 14, 1859; Arizona joined the Republic as a state in 1912.

Taft signs Arizona statehood papers, February 14, 1912

President William Howard Taft signed the papers accepting Arizona into statehood, on February 14, 1912. He still finished third behind Democrat Woodrow Wilson and Bullmoose Party’s Teddy Roosevelt in that fall’s elections. Photo found at Mrs. Convir’s page, Balboa Magnet School  (Can you identify others in the photo?  Who is the young man?)

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Thanksgiving 2012 – Fly your flag today!

November 22, 2012

Fly  your flag on Thanksgiving — it’s one of about a score of dates Congress designated specially to fly the flag, in the U.S. flag code.

Americans load up this particular holiday with significance, often for no particular reason.  As a holiday, it is really rather uniquely American.  There were feasts of thanksgiving from time to time throughout recorded history, but most often they were one-shot affairs, after a particular event.

In America, Americans eagerly seized on the idea of one day set aside “to give thanks,” both with the religious overtones some wanted to see, and with the commercial overtones others wanted, especially during the Great Depression.  In our 236th year since the Declaration of Independence, the 223rd year since the Constitution was enacted, we come to Thanksgiving as a major period of travel to old family homesteads, to Thanksgiving as a period of genuine thanks to American troops fighting in foreign lands half a world away, and as a commercial celebration that sucks the sobriety and spirituality out of all but the most dedicated of profiteers, or bargain hunters.

Vintage Thanksgiving greeting card, from HubPages

In the early 20th century, some people sent greeting cards for Thanksgiving; this is a tradition overtaken by Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years cards, today. (Image from HubPages, unknown year — credit for cards, “Images courtesy VintageHolidayCrafts.com

Thanksgiving often stumbled into controversy.  George Washington issued proclamations calling for a day of thanks, but struck out all references to Christianity.  Some president’s issued similar proclamations up to the Civil War, When Abraham Lincoln used the holiday as a time to remind  Americans that they had a lot to be thankful for, partly as a means to keep Americans focused on the war to be won, and keep supporting troops in the field.  During the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt juggled dates for Thanksgiving, moving it earlier in November to create a longer Christmas shopping season, hoping to stimulate sales, and thereby push America further out of the Depression.

In 2001 George W. Bush urged Americans to go shopping so terrorists would know America was not defeated by the attack on the World Trade Center, knowing that a stimulus to the economy would help garner support for other policies.

Vintage thanksgiving card, Boy riding turkey with American flag, from HubPages, original date unknown

Children riding large turkeys, waving American flags, made popular images in several years of the early 20th century.

2012 saw controversy over Big Box stores and other major, national retailers pushing their post- Thanksgiving, Christmas sales, into Thanksgiving day itself.  Is this fair to employees?  Is this too much emphasis on purchasing, and too little emphasis on family and giving thanks?

You can be sure of one thing:  It’s probably safe to fly your American flag on Thanksgiving, as Congress suggested.  It won’t make your turkey more moist  or your pumpkin pie taste any better.  It won’t boost your sales, if you’re a retailer, nor find you a bargain, if you’re a shopper.

If you have the flag, it costs nothing.  Flying the flag makes no particular religious statement, supports no particular political party, supports no one’s favorite football team.  Flying the flag earns you nothing, usually.

But as a free act of patriotism, support for our nation, and our troops, and a demonstration that even after a divisive election, we’re all one nation, it’s a pretty good deal.

Fly your flag today.

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Fly your flag today, in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

January 16, 2012

You already have it up and waving, right?  Did I really need to remind you?

Google logo for Martin Luther King, Jr., Day 2012

Google logo for Martin Luther King, Jr., Day 2012 - click for more information

Fly your flag today, in honor of our nation, and in honor of our nation’s honoring the memory and legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

U.S. law encourages Americans to fly the U.S. flag on holidays and a few other occasions. Congress set aside the third Monday in January as a holiday to commemorate the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

To honor Dr. King, for several years civil rights leaders and others have urged us to find some way to serve our communities on this day — Americans have done it long enough to make it a tradition. Here’s the official find-a-way-to-serve page from the the federal government; look out your window, go spend a few minutes at your city hall, post office, or at the biggest church in town, or walk into any middle school in America, and opportunities to serve will caress you at every turn.

More, much more:

King, by photographer Ben Fernandez's "Countdown to Eternity"

King, by photographer Ben Fernandez's portfolio of photos from one year in the life of Dr. King, "Countdown to Eternity"

MLK logo from Google mlk2010

Google's logo for Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, 2010 - click for more information


January 3, 1959: Welcome, Alaska, and the 49-star flag

January 3, 2012

Alaska Territorial Gov. Bob Bartlett in center, with the 49-star flag (Bartlett was one of Alaska's first U.S. senators).

Alaska Territorial Gov. Bob Bartlett in center, with the 49-star flag (Bartlett was one of Alaska’s first U.S. senators).

The great service at the New York Times site, the Learning Network, notes the 1959 Dwight Eisenhower proclamation of Alaska as the 49th state, and the unveiling of the 49-star flag:

On Jan. 3, 1959, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a proclamation admitting Alaska to the Union as the 49th state. The New York Times noted that the signing included the unveiling of the new 49-star American flag.

The land that became Alaska came into U.S. possession in 1867, when William Seward, secretary of state under President Andrew Johnson, negotiated a deal to buy the 586,000-square-mile area from Russia for $7.2 million, less than 2 cents per acre. Seward’s decision was ridiculed in the American press, who saw no potential in the vast, inhospitable and sparsely populated area.

For decades after its purchase, Alaska was derided as “Seward’s folly” or “Seward’s icebox.” This opinion changed in 1896 with the discovery of gold in the neighboring Yukon Territory, which spurred tens of thousands of people to head to Alaska in search of gold. The gold rush also brought about a boom in mining, fishing and trapping.

Though the first statehood bill had been presented to Congress in 1916, there was little desire in either Alaska or Washington for Alaskan statehood until after World War II. During the war, the U.S. established multiple military bases to resist Japan’s attacks on Alaska’s Aleutian Islands and prevent a potential invasion of the mainland. The military activity, along with the completion of a major highway from Montana, led to a large population growth.

In 1946, Alaskans voted in favor of statehood in a referendum and Alaskan delegates began to lobby Congress for statehood. After years of debate, Congress voted in June 1958 to admit Alaska.

Eight months after Alaska’s admission, on Aug. 21, 1957 [should be 1959, no?], Hawaii became the 50th state. The 49-star remained in place until the following July 4, when it was replaced by the now-familiar 50-star flag.

49-star flags were produced only until August 1959, so there are few of them around.  I love this photo of the unveiling of the flag with President Eisenhower:

President Eisenhower and Quartermaster General MG Andrew T. McNamara, with 49-star flag - image from QM foundation

“Quartermaster General MG Andrew T. McNamara and President Eisenhower examine new 49 star flag” – image and caption from the Quartermaster Foundation. (Who are the other two people?  The guy on the right looks to me a bit like is Pennsylvania’s Sen. Hugh Scott.)

It had been about 47 years since the previous state admission (Arizona); people became aware that no law set what the flag should look like.  President Eisenhower issued a directive.

How did the nation survive for 170 years without firm, decisive and conclusive orders on what the flag should look like?  Isn’t it a great story that we went so long without law setting the requirements?

Benny Benson's award-winning flag design for the State of Alaska

Alaska’s flag was designed by 13-year-old Benny Benson

Alaska’s state flag came from the imagination of a 13-year-old Aleut, Benny Benson, winning a contest to design the state’s flag.  Alaska’s flag stands out in any display of U.S. state flags.


You’re flying your flag, right?

November 24, 2011

Did I need to remind you to fly your flag today?

U.S. flag at Mt. Vernon, cupola on the house in the background

U.S. flag at George Washington's home, Mt. Vernon, cupola on the house in the background


Fly your flag today: Veterans Day, November 11, 2010

November 11, 2010

Iwo Jima Memorial, near Washington, D.C.

Iwo Jima Memorial, near Washington, D.C.

Fly your flag today.

We honor all veterans on November 11 of each year.  The Flag Code designates Veterans Day for flag flying, to honor veterans. (See more on the Flag Code, here.)

More, and other resources


Patriotic shame of Corpus Christi, Texas

July 2, 2010

Flag in Corpus Christi, Texas, at corner of Staples and Craig - photo by Ed Darrell - IMGP4383

This flag needs to be retired. Will some patriot step up to the job?

Leaving Corpus Christi can be a trial.  It’s at least a 15 mile drive from the American Banking Center to Interstate 37, if you go by the Starbucks on Staples to get coffee for the drive back to Dallas.  (It’s a 100-yard drive otherwise.)

Tourist that I am I drove Staples all the way back, to see the nitty-gritty of the town.

Must it be this gritty?

The flag above, if it can still be considered a flag, struggles to honor our nation at the corner of Staples and Craig Streets.  Clearly this is not a flag that is retired at sundown, as the U.S. flag code urges.  It looks as though it has been flying there for at least a year.  Perhaps it has flown since September 11, 2001.  Perhaps it has flown since the War of 1812.

When a flag becomes tattered, it should be mended, appropriate for a symbol of our nation.  When it can no longer be repaired, it should be retired, according to the Congressional Research Service Report for Congress — The United States Flag:  Federal Law Related to Display and Associated Questions (pages 11 and 12):

Destruction of Worn Flags

The Flag Code states:

The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.*  The act is silent on procedures for burning a flag. It would seem that any procedure which is in good taste and shows no disrespect to the flag would be appropriate. The Flag Protection Act of 1989,38 struck down albeit on grounds unrelated to this specific point,39 prohibited inter alia “knowingly” burning of a flag of the United States, but excepted from prohibition “any conduct consisting of disposal of a flag when it has become worn or soiled.”

4 U.S.C. § 8(k).

Do we have any readers in Corpus Christi?  Could you drop by the shop where this flag is flown sometime through the week, and ask them to retire the flag, as an act of honor for our nation?

Thank you.


Don’t “dip” the American flag

August 14, 2009

So far I’ve been able to learn that Joe Bruni is a firefighter.  Beyond that, I don’t know much other than his YouTube series on flag etiquette is very good — not perfect, but very, very good.

In this episode he talks about carrying a flag.  I wish he’d discussed it in terms of a flag ceremony, but he gets the basics right.

Younger Scouts, Cub Scouts, Brownies and Bluebirds will have difficulty holding a large flag and pole vertical — get a flag harness to help them out (usually less than $25.00 at Scout supply shops).

He’s got a bunch of these.  I’ll pass them along as I get a chance to view them.

(Joe Bruni — who are you?)


Proof Bush has America backwards

August 13, 2008

Photographic proof that George Bush has America backwards. (Avert your Cub Scout’s eyes — he shouldn’t see his president doing that to the U.S. flag. Your Cub Scout knows that the union should always be displayed to its own right — to Bush’s right, the opposite of how he’s holding it here.)

President Bush displays U.S. flag backwards, at Beijing Olympics.  Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

President Bush displays U.S. flag backwards, at Beijing Olympics. Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Worse, there’s more:

But, by God! He’s wearing his lapel pin! Wearing the pin makes one immune to the rules of respectful flag display, one would assume, from the complaints of Sen. Barack Obama’s not wearing the lapel pin, and the remarkable silence from those same people about Bush’s many insults to the flag.

George Bush makes the case: We don’t need a Constitutional Amendment to make flag desecration illegal. We need Americans who pay attention to flag etiquette, instead.

Tip of the old scrub brush to Larry Perez, and to BuzzFlash, “The Diplomatic Decathlon: Bush’s Marathon of Olympic Blunders”


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