Write Again . . . What so proudly we hail

Published 8:00 pm Monday, October 6, 2014

While I have not designated myself as a one-man American flag “policeman,” I do admit to being considerably concerned when our flag is displayed improperly.

Now, such concern is probably a result of my love of American history, particularly because of having read so extensively about the two world wars, and, to some degree, because I did serve three years active duty in the army.

Please let me hasten to add that I am not a flag fanatic, nor one who sees my country’s history through a nationalistic lens, blind to the blemishes that are an inevitable, undeniable part of the history of any nation.

Having said that, make no mistake, however. “I’m proud to be an American, at least I know I’m free …” as the song so poignantly tells us.

So. For any of you — or any whom you may know — who may have questions about when and how to display our nation’s symbol, here are just a few dos and don’ts:

The flag should be flown from sunrise to sunset. If flown at night, it should be illuminated by a light.

It shall not be flown in inclement weather. (Many ignore this.)

The blue fields of stars (known as the union) should always be at the top.

Always fly the American flag at the top of the pole above state and other (county, city, etc.) flags.

When the flag is flown with flags of other nations they are to be displayed from separate staffs of the same height, and each should be of equal size. International law forbids the display of the flag of one nation to be flown above that of another nation during time of peace.

Following a significant death or tragedy, the flag is flown at half staff (on land) or half mast (on ships) for 30 days.

When flown during a time of national mourning by order or proclamation of the President of the United States, the flag should be raised to the peak for an instant, then lowered to the half staff position. The procedure is reversed at the end of the day, when it is then lowered.

On Memorial Day the flag should be displayed at half mast until noon, then raised to the top of the staff and flown until sunset.

If flags are flown at equal heights (say, on a home or building) the American flag is always on the far left when facing the flags.

Are these all the rules for proper display, use, and disposal of the flag? Absolutely not. For now, though, it’s enough.

So. Let’s fly our flags with pride. Correctly.

APROPOS — “ … O say does that star spangled banner yet wave …”

— Francis Scott Key

“The Star Spangled Banner”