Flag Day 2013 is today if you haven’t noticed, and timing coincides with a high-profile flag code kerfuffle earlier this week.
Flag Day falls on June 14, always preceding the more widely observed Fourth Of July three weeks later. But as Flag Day is upon us, it seems we are reminded that many today are unaware of the holiday’s basics or how to observe basic flag handling guidelines.
This week, major network HGTV was forced to issue a sheepish apology after a flag controversy enveloped one of their July 4th tips posted on the web.
Facebook users were outraged by the HGTV American flag tablecloth tip, suggesting July 4th party hosts use an actual American flag to serve as a “table runner” in a tip about “unconventional table linens.”
The HGTV pre-Flag Day controversy was offensive to many Americans and military families in particular due to closely held respect protocols for American flags.
And while the American flag’s print graces everything from shirts to bikinis to hats and even underwear, most Americans are aware that an American flag and something printed with an American flag design are two different things.
Flag code is a common topic in primary education, and young Americans are advised of guidelines to handle the US flag, with direction that “no disrespect should be shown to the flag of the United States of America; the flag should not be dipped to any person or thing.”
Guidelines on respect for the flag, often repeated on Flag Day, go on to say:
- The flag should never be displayed with the union down, except as a signal of dire distress in instances of extreme danger to life or property.
- The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
- The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
- The flag should never be used as wearing apparel, bedding, or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up, in folds, but always allowed to fall free. Bunting of blue, white, and red, always arranged with the blue above, the white in the middle, and the red below, should be used for covering a speaker’s desk, draping the front of the platform, and for decoration in general.
- The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
- The flag should never be used as a covering for a ceiling.
- The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.
- The flag should never be used as a receptacle for receiving, holding, carrying, or delivering anything.
- 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. Advertising signs should not be fastened to a staff or halyard from which the flag is flown.
- 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, 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.
As we mark Flag Day, do you think not enough Americans are aware of proper treatment of Old Glory?