With the holiday of Memorial Day and the celebration of Flag Day in the rear view mirror of our Summer schedules, we are now looking forward to celebrating our country’s official birthday, July 4th! If your family is like mine, we take pride in displaying our love for country, patriotism, and respect for those who have sacrificed for this country with a flag either on the front of our home or, for some, on a flag pole in their yard. Many businesses also proudly display the symbol of our country that stands for freedom, liberty, and human rights.
There have been approximately 28 designs for the flag over the course of its history to bring us to the design that we have today. The “union” section or blue rectangle of the flag contains the 50 stars that represent the 50 states. The 13 stripes represent the 13 original colonies that sought out independence from Great Britain and are colored red and white alternatively. White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valor, and Blue, signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice.
Now, many of you reading this will remember much of this information from your school days or a scouting program or even the military. However, I was surprised to find that many people don’t know what to do with “Old Glory” when she becomes tattered, worn, and torn. On June 22, 1942, the Flag Code became Public Law 77-623; chapter 435. Little was changed from the original flag code but as of 1990, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 1st Amendment provides certain rights that make it unconstitutional to enforce the penalty for breaking the Flag Code. Therefore, it has become mostly a respect and etiquette issue but one that certainly bears highlighting. Below is a summary of the current Flag Code as taken from Wikipedia.org:
- The flag should never be dipped to any person or thing, unless it is the ensign responding to a salute from a ship of a foreign nation. This is sometimes misreported as a tradition that comes from the 1908 Summer Olympics in London, where countries were asked to dip their flag to King Edward VII; American team flag bearer Ralph Rose did not follow this protocol, and teammate Martin Sheridan is often, though apocryphally, quoted as proclaiming that “this flag dips before no earthly king.”
- When a flag is so tattered that it no longer fits to serve as a symbol of the United States, it should be destroyed in a dignified manner, preferably by burning. The Veterans of Foreign Wars, American Legion, Boy Scouts of America, Girl Scouts of the USA, the military and other organizations regularly conduct dignified flag-burning ceremonies.
- No part of the flag should ever be used as a costume or athletic uniform. However, a flag patch may be affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen, and members of patriotic organizations. The flag represents a living country and is itself considered a living thing. Therefore, the lapel flag pin being a replica, should be worn on the left lapel near the heart.
- The flag should never touch anything beneath it.
- The flag should always be permitted to fall rarely. (An exception was made during the Apollo moon landings when the flag hung from a vertical pole designed with an extensible horizontal bar, allowing full display even in the absence of an atmosphere.)
- The flag should never be used for advertising purposes in any manner whatsoever. It 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.
So, as we reflect on our nations birthday, other recent patriotic holidays, and display our flags proudly, keep in mind the meanings within that Flag you fly. And when Old Glory becomes worn, retire it in a proper manner by either having a flag retirement ceremony (a proper flag retirement ceremony), or you can drop the folded flag (how to fold the American Flag) off at a local VFW, American Legion, or Boy/Girl Scout troop, where they will conduct routine Flag retirement ceremonies. The American Legion at 1019 Market St, Pascagoula, has a receptacle just inside the Parsely St. foyer that you can drop off your worn flags. Other locations in the area are:
- Vfw Post 5699 Mark Seymour 612 VFW Road Ocean Springs, MS 39564
- American Legion Post 1992 Gautier-Vancleave 3824 Old Spanish Trl Gautier, MS 39553
- Vfw Post 2132 Harold E Jones 3801 Old Spanish Trl Gautier, MS 39553
- Vfw Post 3373 Elmer Joseph Grant 4724 Vega St Pascagoula, MS 39581
- Vfw Post 10024 Arnett Garland Jennings Pascagoula, MS 39569
Happy Birthday America!