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5 Reasons to Raise the Flag

National Flag Day - June 14




Actual fascination began with “Black Hawk Down” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0265086/), a film I stumbled upon by accident and didn’t stop watching until the final credits.

Then I saw it. I thought someone had made a terrible mistake. A patch of the US flag was sewn onto a military officer’s uniform backwards. Backwards. Didn’t Hollywood have technical consultants to catch those kinds of things? I quickly contacted my sister to enquire about the “mistake”. Although she admitted she didn’t know the reason for the US flag to be displayed backwards, she was intrigued enough to do a bit of research. Her findings settled the issue for me; the flag had been correctly displayed under the circumstances. As the only American in our family, my sister learned facts about the flag, including the “coolest thing ever”—that the flag of the United States of America is always displayed advancing, never retreating, thus the use of the reversed field flag on the uniform.

Who hasn’t felt pride well up in his breast while watching his flag waving majestically in the breeze or being briskly hoisted into the air or as uniformed personnel stand at rigid attention and citizens salute with their hands over their hearts? I still feel deep respect when I see the flag displayed in a parade or handed to a widow after being folded with precision and care. As a child growing up in Massachusetts, I stood erect, right hand over my heart, with my classmates five days a week, next to my square, wooden desk with metal legs, to pledge my allegiance to the flag of the country in which I lived. I was earnest in my pledge although it was not until many decades later, when my sister and I talked about her flag findings did I begin to understand the depth of flag code.

As the symbol of the United States of America, The Stars and Stripes is almost personified through the treatment it receives throughout its “life”.

1. The flag means business. It’s not a decoration. As the symbol of a living nation, the flag should not be used for trivial uses. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

2. Handle with care. The flag should never touch the ground. If it gets dirty, there is a proper way to clean it. By hand with a mild soap solution, not dumped into a washing machine. Dry the flag thoroughly before returning it to use.

3. Keep the flag close to your heart. When wearing a lapel pin, as a replica of the true flag, which is considered a living thing, wear it on the left lapel near the heart.

4. The flag is specific about music. “Reveille” is the traditional bugle call for the raising of the flag. Starting from the first note, briskly raise the flag, taking about 20 seconds. US

civilians lower the flag to the bugle call, “Taps”. In the military, however, “Retreat” is played, followed by a gun salute and the national anthem or “To the Color”.

5. The flag doesn’t wear tattoos. The flag must not be marked in any way by insignias, letters, words, figures, designs, pictures, drawings or autographs.

If I were to add just one additional reason to wave the flag it would be this: the flag bows to no one. It is prohibited to dip the flag to any person or thing.

The flag flies 24 hours a day at the South Pole and on the moon, two destinations that I’m not likely to visit so I’ll take their word for it. There are thousands of other places where the flag is flown 24 hours a day (and there’s etiquette for that, too) but there’s a special group—designated by law or executive order—that flies 24 hours a day. How many can you name? Check your knowledge of flag facts at http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/faq.htm.

On Flag Day, raise your flag with pride as the symbol of freedom declares in “I am the Flag” by Ruth Apperson Rous:

Dedicate your lives to those principles for which I stand: “One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” (http://www.usflag.org/i.am.the.flag.html).

Source: http://www.ushistory.org/betsy/faq.htm

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