As seems to be the case with courtesy in general these days, a growing number of Americans don't know flag etiquette. Today Flag Day marks a good day for a quick review and recommitment to that etiquette.
After all, our flag symbolizes far more than the original 13 colonies (stripes) and the 50 states (stars). George Washington is credited with saying, "We take the stars from Heaven, the red from our mother country, separating it by white stripes, thus showing that we have separated from her, and the white stripes shall go down to posterity representing Liberty." In 1782, Congress essentially gave each of the flag colors symbolic meaning when it defined the Great Seal of the United States' herald as, "White signifies Purity and Innocence; Red, Hardiness and Valor; Blue signifies Vigilance, Perseverance and Justice." Regardless of what any of us think about who sits in the White House or which party controls Congress, all of us can agree our nation ought to aspire to those ideals.
Given this, we always should show respect to the flag, if only to demonstrate that we also are dedicated to making our nation a place of justice, innocence and valor.
Unfortunately, through the years we've noticed far too many examples of disrespect. Please always remember to:
Place the American flag at the highest point and at the center when other flags are flown.
Honor the flag by coming to attention during a parade. Those in uniform should salute it. Civilians place their right hand over the heart. Men should remove their hats, hold it to the left shoulder and place their hand over the heart. Members of organizations in formation salute upon command of the person in charge.
Display the flag half mast only upon presidential or gubernatorial order. On Memorial Day, the flag is displayed at half staff until noon and at full staff from noon to sunset.
Remove the flag that covers a casket before it is lowered into the grave.
America always has been a place about becoming better, whether it be in improving our quality of life or the liberties our residents enjoy. The flag symbolizes those ideals all of wish our country to strive for. Let us show our commitment to those ideals by paying respect to the flag today and every day hereafter.